Local food banks are currently experiencing a higher than average demand.
As parents face decreased hours and layoffs due to businesses shutting their doors during the COVID-19 pandemic, and children no longer having access to snack programs at school, more and more families are approaching food banks in the area for help.
This need becomes increasingly difficult to meet as some grocery stores are having to place rations on items like eggs and milk.
Terri Simmons, community and family services manager at the Salvation Army, says they’re limited in what they are able to buy in bulk.
“The Apple Place supplies us with apples, so we do have apples on hand,” said Simmons. “I was able to go to a local butcher today and I picked up a bunch of meat, so we’ve got meat.”
The Salvation Army does their own grocery shopping so they’ve been keeping their shelves stocked as best they can.
“Our numbers this week are increasing quite substantially,” Simmons said last week. “So, that being said, even though we’re OK at this moment, if things continue for an extended period we definitely will require assistance.”
Ruth Brown, co-chair at the Delhi Sharing Pantry, said they are in a similar situation.
They are currently heavily focused on snacks and lunch foods because they have had an influx in need for families with children. They are also lacking pasta.
On March 19 the Sharing Pantry served 21 families.
“That’s definitely an increase, over and above what we’ve had for the last few months,” said Brown.
The Pantry’s food order did not arrive this week, which put them a bit behind.
“If my orders aren’t coming in of course we’re going to be relying much more heavily on the donations that people bring into the food bank.”
Brown added she is already seeing the kindness of the community because they had multiple people dropping off gift cards on Wednesday and Thursday.
Simmons mentioned that people accessing their services that may fall ill might not be able to afford things such as Tylenol, cough syrup, or tissues. These items or gift cards to locations that sell them would be accepted as donations.
The Salvation Army thrift store is currently closed to the public but Simmons says the staff still has access in case anyone is in an emergency situation and needs to collect clothing.
“We’re just trying to support the community in any way we can during these uncertain times,” said Simmons. “If there is a need, please don’t hesitate to give us a call.”
People looking to donate food or gift cards are being asked to call ahead of dropping off items to ensure they’re able to limit the amount of human-to-human contact people are having.
Other food banks in the area include Simcoe’s Caring Cupboard, Port Dover’s Lifeline Food Bank, St. Williams’s Mission Food Bank, and The Waterford and District Food Cupboard.
On Monday, Ontario Premier Doug Ford announced $200 million in funding to support shelters, food banks, emergency services, charities and non-profit agencies.
How the money is used will be determined by municipalities, said a statement issued by the province.
The province also is putting in place an expanded emergency assistance program administered through Ontario Works to help with needs such as food, rent, informal child care and services. There will also be discretionary benefits available to those who already receive social assistance.
This new funding will help individuals and families in financial crisis who are not able to access federal assistance to cover needs such as food, rent, medicine, transportation and other services. Funding also will be made available to organizations delivering social services to vulnerable First Nations individuals and families.
Individuals can apply online at Ontario.ca/community.
With files from Vincent Ball