Saskatoon’s Friendship Inn adjusts to keep providing food security through outbreak

Click to play video: 'Saskatoon Friendship Inn executive director on how people are dealing with COVID-19' Saskatoon Friendship Inn executive director on how people are dealing with COVID-19
WATCH: Nearly 11 months since the first case was reported in Saskatchewan, Friendship Inn executive director Sandra Kary talks about how people are dealing with the novel coronavirus pandemic – Feb 4, 2021

The Friendship Inn has made adjustments and continues to provide food security to the city’s vulnerable population after a COVID-19 outbreak was declared last week.

Executive director Sandra Kary said when news that three employees had tested positive came on Jan. 27, staff responded.

Read more: Saskatoon Food Bank suspends emergency food hampers after COVID-19 outbreak

“That caused us to respond with a few extra measures. So what that meant for us was that we just needed to take a look and see where some of our gaps might have been and close those gaps as soon as we could,” she said on Wednesday.

“We were able to do a deep cleaning in the building.

“On a regular day, we would do dine-in and takeaway … and so when we did hear of the outbreak, we just reduced to takeaway for those two days and then we were able to go back to kind of our COVID-regular service delivery.”

Story continues below advertisement

Kary confirmed the three affected employees are self-isolating at home and this is the only outbreak at the Saskatoon community centre.

“It’s just the reality that we’re in with COVID that for all of our best measures, we’re dealing with a virus that’s … challenging so we continue on with vigilance,” she said.

[ Sign up for our Health IQ newsletter for the latest coronavirus updates ]

“We’ve had our staff tested and we do that regularly and we’ve reassured our volunteers and our guests that we’re going to continue on with all of our vigilant protocols.

“And it’s just really important to keep moving forward and our services are really needed. So we are pretty motivated to make sure that we can still offer food security in the community.”

Read more: Increased COVID-19 risk at Saskatoon restaurant, St. Louis community events

Before the pandemic, Kary said the Friendship Inn was serving up to 1,000 meals a day compared to about 600 now.

“I would say that we’re probably still serving the same amount of folks … The folks that we’re serving now are definitely here for food security reasons,” she said.

“Before COVID, we were cafeteria-style … It’s just a limitation that people can only be in the building for so long or if they come in and take a meal that we just want to make sure that the folks that need us actually have bigger portions right now.”

Story continues below advertisement

How important is the work that the Friendship Inn does, especially considering the ongoing pandemic?

“We provide hot meals, 365 days a year … It’s really important that we maintain our services so that we can just offer that support to our community. There are so many challenges out there that we just need to continue to operate with as much vigilance as we can so that we can keep supporting people throughout all of the challenges they face.”

According to the Saskatchewan government’s active outbreaks list, the Saskatoon zone had roughly 65 as of noon on Thursday. 

Click to play video: 'Coronavirus outbreak at Saskatoon restaurant was potential superspreader event: SHA' Coronavirus outbreak at Saskatoon restaurant was potential superspreader event: SHA
Coronavirus outbreak at Saskatoon restaurant was potential superspreader event: SHA – Jan 11, 2021

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

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.

Story continues below advertisement

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. In situations where you can’t keep a safe distance from others, public health officials recommend the use of a non-medical face mask or covering to prevent spreading the respiratory droplets that can carry the virus. In some provinces and municipalities across the country, masks or face coverings are now mandatory in indoor public spaces.

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

Sponsored content