Despite the challenges of COVID-19, Edmonton’s Food Bank has continued our work and service in the community.
Like the rest of the world, things started changing for us in early March. Our food depots are located throughout Edmonton, providing clients nearby and convenient locations to collect their hampers. Initial closures and procedural changes for our community food depots meant that in just the first few weeks of COVID-19 restrictions, about 5,000 clients needed their hamper pick-ups to be reassigned. To accommodate this, we started running daily depots in our Annex building, supporting up to 120 households a day, and worked with our remaining community depots to ensure they could handle changing community needs. We’d like to thank our clients for their patience, and our volunteers for their help during these changes. Thankfully, community food depots have begun to return following Alberta Health Services guidelines.
We have also established new partnerships with groups like the #YEGCommuntyReponse team and the John Humphrey Centre for Human Rights in the form of a hamper delivery service. This quickly established service provided support to low income people who were sick, were in self-isolation for 14 days, or were immunocompromised, and supported seniors or families who had no safe means of transportation to receive their food hamper.
The needs of our soup kitchen and shelter partners also changed. Single serving snacks and “easy to go” meals became a necessity. Because of the tremendous help from our donors, we adjusted key food purchases to include deli meats, and other easily distributable foods.
At our buildings, we implemented strict measures to ensure our clients, volunteers, donors, and staff are safe. We installed plexiglass dividers, hand sanitizer pumps, and touchless faucets, we increased the distance between seats in communal areas, and we provided masks and gloves for anyone handling food. Our supply of PPE and hand sanitizer is from generous donations, from Hansen Distillery, Labatt’s Brewery, and the University of Alberta Chemistry Department, and our own purchases. We would also like to say a big thank you to HIBCO Construction for their quick installation of plexiglass dividers at our reception desks and client intake areas.
At this time of year we traditionally exhaust the food donations from our Festive Campaign. And with most of this spring and summer’s food drives cancelled, such as AMA Shredding, Canstruction, and the Edmonton Heritage Festival, we have had to expand our normal food purchases.
Thankfully, the generosity of Edmontonians is coming through in a big way. With virtual fundraisers, charity auctions, dozens of small businesses donating proceeds from sales, and campaigns like the #YEGTechCares initiative, we are feeling confident that we will be able to continue our services. Because of you, we have been able to buy hundreds of thousands of dollars worth of basic food items like pasta, canned fruit and vegetables, and peanut butter. These types of food are the foundation of our food hampers.
We have also received shipments from our friends in the food industry, including plenty of fresh food that had been meant for restaurants. Our retail partners are still providing fresh produce, dairy, and breads. And producers like General Mills have donated pallets of non-perishables, including cereal and kids snacks.
You can still find information for donating, volunteering, or accessing help here.
Your continued, generous support has prepared us for a time like this. Since Black Friday in 1987, we have had emergency funds and contingency plans in place so that we are always ready for this kind of situation. We know there will be difficulties ahead, and we want you to know that your support now is helping us prepare for the long-term impacts of this pandemic. No matter what happens, we will be ready to support those in need in our community, and it is because of you that we can.
Stay safe & stay healthy!
- Edmonton’s Food Bank