Coronavirus: Food Banks of Saskatchewan launches fundraising campaign

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WATCH: Food Banks of Saskatchewan is experiencing increased demand due to the coronavirus pandemic. Daniella Ponticelli has more details on efforts to ease the burden on families and social services trying to keep up. – Apr 2, 2020

With an increase in demand due to the coronavirus pandemic, Food Banks of Saskatchewan launched a $6-million provincewide campaign on Thursday.

The organization represents 32 food banks across the province, supporting about 40,000 residents. It says it’s in “desperate” need of financial support.

“[It’s] a crisis unlike any we have ever experienced. As we witnessed in the recession in 2008, food banks were hard-pressed to meet demand,” said Laurie O’Connor, Saskatoon Food Bank and Learning Centre’s executive director.

READ MORE: Regina shelters close doors to try to stop COVID-19 spread, food bank stays open for now

“We anticipate that the economic impact of COVID-19 will see thousands of people visiting us who never imagined they would be forced to rely on a food bank to survive.”

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Food Banks of Saskatchewan says the money raised will go a long way to feeding those in need. It says $100 will feed two families for a week.

Social distancing has decreased staffing levels, but local food bank teams are “ramping up” their to-go boxes for quick food hamper pickup.

“Economic pressures will lead to a surge in demand on our food bank unlike anything our community has experienced before,” said John Bailey, Regina Food Bank CEO.

READ MORE: Coronavirus — How Saskatchewan communities are spreading kindness during a pandemic

“Hundreds of thousands of meals worth of food will be delivered to people, many of whom will never have considered that they would need to rely on a food bank. We will have to change the way we operate to meet the needs of our community, and we need the support of our community to make it happen.”

O’Connor said she is confident in Saskatchewan’s culture of giving and expects residents to step up.

“If there is one thing I have learned in my time at the food bank, it is that the generous spirit of the people of Saskatchewan is never more apparent than when the chips are down. And right now, we fear it’s just the beginning,” O’Connor said.

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School lunches still provided in Regina

Children and youth who relied on school food programs are still able to receive free lunches in Regina.

The city and Regina Education and Action on Child Hunger (REACH) are leading an initiative to support the weekly delivery of food at city facilities throughout Regina.

“We looked at kits of weekly lunches, therefore trying to limit that physical distance and social contact,” said Dana Folkersen, executive director of REACH.

Each kit includes seven sandwiches, seven pieces of fruit and bags of vegetables.

“Each day, there’s 150 kits of one-weeks’ worth of lunches, but that’s like 1,050 lunches a day. We’re at five different sites and we may need to up some of those numbers,” Folkersen said.

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Community-based organizations, such as Chili for Children and the Regina Food Bank, are helping assemble the lunches, prepared by chefs at Evraz Place. The Salvation Army is also involved in distribution.

Families coming to collect their kits are kept at safe social distance, and enter the pickup locations one-by-one.

Folkersen said there is a delivery service option for families outside the access areas, or who have other barriers to access.

REACH has received funding from Mosaic to cover expenses for the program, which launched March 25. Anyone wanting to learn more can contact REACH by phone or Facebook. ​

Questions about COVID-19? Here are some things you need to know:

Health officials caution against all international travel. Returning travellers are legally obligated to self-isolate for 14 days, beginning March 26, in case they develop symptoms and to prevent spreading the virus to others. Some provinces and territories have also implemented additional recommendations or enforcement measures to ensure those returning to the area self-isolate.

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Coronavirus: How Sask. communities are spreading kindness during a pandemic – Mar 26, 2020

Symptoms can include fever, cough and difficulty breathing — very similar to a cold or flu. Some people can develop a more severe illness. People most at risk of this include older adults and people with severe chronic medical conditions like heart, lung or kidney disease. If you develop symptoms, contact public health authorities.

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To prevent the virus from spreading, experts recommend frequent handwashing and coughing into your sleeve. They also recommend minimizing contact with others, staying home as much as possible and maintaining a distance of two metres from other people if you go out.

For full COVID-19 coverage from Global News, click here.

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