There has been no surge in temporary registrations for food bank services in Maple Ridge or Pitt Meadows even though more and more people are being laid off from their jobs due to the COVID-19 crisis.
However, Mary Robson, executive director of the Friends In Need Food Bank, expects that to change in the coming weeks.
So far only about five people are registering a day, said Robson.
“I’m thinking that as soon as people realize that, gee, I have to pay my rent and I don’t have the money, now what am I going to do for food,” that’s when registration will pick up, she said.
A two-metre separation policy is now being enforced outside the facility.
As of Tuesday, designated standing areas were being marked along the sidewalk of the building where people could wait in line.
Robson wasn’t sure how many spaces would be available but said they would be taking names and would notify that person when a spot opens up.
Several cash donations are still coming into the food bank every day through Canada Helps, but it is the perishable food recovery program that Robson is worried about.
“Our perishable food recovery program has been in huge decline,” said Robson, as soon as the panic buying started to happen.
Right now they are getting about 40 totes a day, compared to 140 they were getting before the crisis enfolded.
One food supplier, though, was able to give them eight pallets of fresh product on Tuesday, March 24, and will be able to do the same for the next couple of weeks.
Food banks are working together when it comes to non-perishable foods.
“When one of us is finding a source or we have a surplus, we’re sharing it,” said Robson, reminding people that donation bins are still located at the front of all the grocery stores in town.
Mark Stewart with the Salvation Army Ridge Meadows Ministries said they are still handing out frozen meals to people instead of holding community dinners.
“We’re kind of taking it week to week,” he said.
Although they have enough supplies in terms of food, he said, they are low on hand sanitizer and face masks.
Some people who are staying in the emergency shelter or the Ministry’s Genesis Transitional Housing program are choosing to stay indoors, others are leaving and returning to the shelter.
“When people are coming back in we are asking them to wash their hands. And then, before they eat, we are asking people to wash their hands,” said Stewart adding that they are also talking to people about social distancing and about taking care of themselves in general.
They were going to take temperatures as well, noted Stewart, but he can’t find a non-touch thermometer anywhere.
However, they have had no cases of COVID-19 cases through staff or residents, that Stewart knows about.
But, Stewart is worried about their hamper supplies and is hoping that anyone who would like to give will drop off non-perishable goods in their bin located outside the office at 11948 227 St., unit D.