When the going gets tough, the tough get going, a saying attributed to the 1953 American football era. That saying couldn’t be more evident in the person whom I will later name in this letter.
When the COVID-19 pandemic struck, many agencies closed their doors to the public; many public servants worked from home or online. In essence, a physical barrier was established between those seeking assistance and those whose responsibility to offer it.
Barriers, mandated by health authorities, drastically changed many groups; in this case, I speak for the Sooke Food Bank.
Our manager was pleased to receive clear direction and guidance on operating safely and protecting both our clients and volunteers. Our food bank never closed, we just became more resilient, and with the generous support of the Sooke Community Association, we got more access to its hall than usual.
Then began the age of Zoom and online communication in earnest. That created a feeling of helplessness in many of our clients and others. How does one convey their desperation effectively without a “face-to-face” sit down? With the public libraries closed, those without computers were shut out. How did they cope? Our manager had these and many other client problems to deal with.
Under her guidance these past few years, many social problems were taken on, solved or ongoing. Therefore, we are more than a food bank and, in this time of crisis, even more so.
To beat COVID-19 or any other obstacle, a best practices policy must be devised. That necessitates gathering information from any and every source to feed the decision-makers, which meant even more work for our volunteer manager. It’s a critical task, but I question how much one expects from a volunteer on the frontline while others work behind the barriers.
I thank president Kim Metzger for her 30 hours per week of volunteering. I know “thanks” doesn’t feed the belly, but I hope it soothes the heart.
My last question to all who read this letter: If governments deem food banks an essential service, why do they not pay the managers?
Food bank manager rises to pandemic challenge