New protocols have been put in place at the food bank in Maple Ridge to ease anxieties as COVID-19 case counts skyrocket across the province.
The Friends In Need Food Bank will now be holding non-perishable food items for 48 hours before the food is distributed to clients.
“It’s just adding burden to another area of the food bank to open up space for the isolation phase,” said Mary Robson, the food bank’s executive director.
“We’ve got people who are doing the food drives are coming to us and saying we can do this safely,” which is really positive, noted Robson, especially seeing the community come together.
However, they have had to reconfigure their warehouse in addition to moving product off-site.
Robson is currently renting two warehouses. One warehouse is for pallets of food they bought using federal funding during the first wave of the pandemic.
“When the pandemic first hit, the food chain broke. So we were running out of inventory,” explained Robson.
When the food chain opened up again they were able to use the funding to purchase pallets of canned soup, pasta and tomato sauce.
There is about two months worth of food stored in case something, “really went sideways”.
The other site they are renting is two doors down from the society on Dewdney Trunk Road. It is an 800 square foot area that was once Hart’s TV Service before the owner, Butch Hart, retired, at the beginning of the pandemic.
“The timing couldn’t have been better,” noted Robson, who is using the space for her volunteers to be able to socially distance from one another as they sort and make hampers for clients.
Robson’s staff and volunteers are becoming anxious as COVID-19 cases in the province have reached record numbers. Some have had to take COVID-relief days off, said Robson.
To ease some of that anxiety, masks are now mandatory throughout the Friends In Need Food Bank facilities.
“We’ve had it for our volunteers working outside with our clients but now we have it for everybody,” explained Robson.
And because of the added space and the mask mandate, volunteers that didn’t feel comfortable working in the warehouse before, have now come back.
So far this year, Robson is not seeing many new registrations.
“It is not like what we thought we’ld see,” she said. Mostly she is seeing families who were previous clients at the food bank re-registering.
Registrations at the Friends In Need Food Bank are by appointment only. To make an appointment in Maple Ridge call 604-466-3663, ext. 206. for Pitt Meadows call 604-460-4619.
For more information on what identification to bring go to friendsneedfood.com.