The Vestiaire St-Joseph food bank in Shediac, N.B., has a new set of wheels to help feed people in need amid and after the pandemic.
“It is going to make a tremendous difference. You know, people are home and they cannot get out and they are scared to go out,” said the food bank’s manager, Norm Guthreau.
The Westiaire St-Joseph food bank has seen a spike in demand for service since the start of the pandemic, but also a hesitation to access it according to its executive director, Mark LeBlanc.
“Especially during the lockdown, a lot of people who were at risk due to COVID, older people and people who were sick, they were not comfortable with coming to the food bank,” LeBlanc said.
As a result, the food bank has stepped up and organized emergency delivery services with the help of volunteers using their own vehicles.
But a $62,000 donation has helped the food bank buy a new-to-them truck to deliver food and pick-up donations along the way. The donation was made by the Jim Bateman Regional Outreach Program, LeBlanc said.
He said the funds will be used to support a home delivery program that will start in the second week of August and will become part of its regular service.
“We don’t want to leave anybody behind.”
According to Food Banks Canada, food banks across the country have had to change the way they operate in light of COVID-19, including ramping up delivery services.
Of the more than 4,000 food banks and community food services across the country, “nearly 70 per cent of food banks implemented a food delivery service during the pandemic,” said Kirstin Beardsley, Food Banks Canada’s chief network foods officer.
She said whether those food banks will be able to sustain that service once the pandemic has passed remains to be seen.
“I think it will be dependant on whether a food bank can maintain that level of service either financially or through available volunteers,” Beardsley said.
Vestiaire St-Joseph plans to continue with home delivery after the pandemic has passed and will rely on that private donation to support the program.
“There is probably a great percentage out there who do not even give us a phone call because they know that we don’t deliver. So to have this for clients to access is very important,” said LeBlanc.