Despite the COVID-19 pandemic, volunteers continue to pack food hampers at the Goldstream Food Bank to help those in need.
Gayle Ireland, food bank president and volunteer coordinator, explained that the team of more than 100 “wonderful” volunteers has been pre-packing food hampers for the community – all while practising social distancing and proper cleaning protocol.
Hampers are packed with meat, dairy products, baked goods, fresh produce, extra items that have expired and a few personal care items, Ireland said. She added that pet food and baby products are also available upon request.
Those who need a hamper must first speak to the interviewer on-site to discuss their needs and the number of people the hamper must feed, Ireland said. However, she pointed out that due to the ongoing pandemic and the need for volunteers to follow the provincial health officer’s orders, hampers cannot currently be customized.
The food bank is operating on Tuesdays and Wednesdays from 9:30 a.m. to 2:30 p.m. during the first three weeks of the calendar month, Ireland said. Typically, hamper pick up takes place inside the Langford Branch of the Royal Canadian Legion on Station Avenue but is currently taking place outside the branch to permit social distancing.
While there has been a spike in new registrants due to job loss, the number of people accessing the food bank is somewhat low, she said. Some 30 residents came by to pick up food on the morning of April 7 – fewer than Ireland was expecting. She assumes the reduced numbers are due to residents self-isolating but wants everyone to know they can still safely pick up food hampers or send someone to pick up for them during the pandemic.
“If they need help, we’re here to help,” she emphasized.
Ireland said despite the gloomy situation, she’s seen an outpouring of kindness from the community. As she spoke, residents stopped by to offer food, monetary donations and even gas for the delivery vans.
To reduce the spread of the virus, anyone looking to make a donation is asked to drop off food straight from the grocery store rather than from their pantry or simply bring cash or gift cards, Ireland said. For more information, visit goldstreamfoodbank.org.