The Newmarket Food Pantry expects to see a rise in clients as those who are already struggling to make ends meet are left with less resources as businesses scale back or close down outright to help stem the coronavirus pandemic.
And the best way you can help vulnerable neighbours put food on the table is through an online monetary donation that’s in keeping with the social distancing measures recommended by health officials.
“Our concern is that we’re going to have more clients as people lose their shifts at work, especially for hourly job workers whose shifts are cut due to closures and reduced hours at places like restaurants and Tim Hortons,” executive director Judy Poulin said. “All these people are now going to be short of money and we feel an increase in need is imminent and we’re trying to prepare for that.”
Poulin said the Newmarket community is “awesome” in its giving and during a pandemic, the best way to help is by donating money.
“People are so stressed at grocery stores right now, they don’t need to be worrying about getting a bag for the food pantry,” she said. “They don’t have to come in, they can make a donation online at CanadaHelps.org, even if it’s $5, $10 or $15. We can make that money go further because we buy wholesale.”
Often the local food bank receives discounts on a wide variety of food and orders essentials by the skid, which volunteers pick up.
Since COVID-19 appeared in the local community a few weeks ago, food bank supplies have dipped.
Just last month, there were 38 new visits to the Gorham Street outlet, 1,544 people were fed, and 41 per cent of those clients were under 18.
“We went into this in a fairly healthy state,” Poulin said. “We come out of Christmas usually well-stocked and supplies last until the end of June before we start getting low. But we see now that we’re probably going to be low within a few weeks.”
New procedures were recently put in place at the pantry, which include allowing five people at a time to come in and receive a three-day emergency supply of food.
Clients must call first to make an appointment, add their names to a sign-up sheet outside the building, and wait in their cars until it’s their turn.
“It worked really well yesterday, our clients are being very co-operative, and that part is working,” said Poulin. “And we have to be cognizant of our volunteers because they’re older and at the age the coronavirus can most affect.”
Moving forward, it is likely the amount of volunteers will be reduced, and the food bank is issuing a call to younger volunteers who may find themselves with extra time on their hands.
“We still need to have people here to stock the shelves and, of course, to constantly wash their hands and be mindful to keep a distance from each other,” said Poulin.
The Newmarket Food Pantry’s annual spring food drive, which is set to kick off at the end of March and run until Easter, will also look different in light of the emerging global coronavirus pandemic.
Details on ways in which people can donate and help fund the charity are coming soon.
You can make a monetary donation to help support the Newmarket Food Pantry here.The pantry is located at 1251 Gorham St., Units 8 and 9. Call 905-895-6823 to make an appointment. Visit them online for more information.