Christmas Cheer Board of Winnipeg moves to food voucher system during pandemic

The Christmas Cheer Board of Winnipeg is changing its process this holiday season due to the COVID-19 pandemic. Twitter / Christmas Cheer Board

The Christmas Cheer Board is changing the way it distributes food to Winnipeggers in need this winter, in an attempt to prevent the spread of COVID-19.

The Cheer Board’s Kai Madsen said the organization will distribute food vouchers this year rather than potentially endangering thousands of volunteers during the pandemic.

“The decision to move away from building hampers this year was not an easy one,” said Madsen.

“But with physical distancing concerns, as well as the risk to several thousand volunteers that help put all this together, we felt that food vouchers would get much-needed support into the hands of people who need us while reducing potential COVID-19 transmission risks.”

Read more: Christmas Cheer Board director celebrates 50 years with 100-year-old organization

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The Cheer Board said hamper applicants will get more information on the voucher process closer to the holiday season.

The organization’s sponsored Feed-A-Family hamper program will continue this year.

“This year has been a challenge for so many,” said Madsen.

“We recognize things may not be the same for our supporters as they have been in the past, and want people to know that we are still here and we will continue to help those who need us.”

Although the Cheer Board won’t be opening its application phone lines until mid-November, the COVID-19 pandemic shows no signs of slowing down in Manitoba a month ahead.

On Tuesday, Manitoba hit a new record high number of coronavirus cases with 124 — and the province’s chief public health official, Dr. Brent Roussin, said those high numbers are expected to continue.

“We are just two weeks into the restricted period for the region,” he said. “We are seeing numbers now of exposures that have occurred 10 to 14 days ago.

“We need to step up now, with Manitobans.”

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