Everyone who enters the Friends In Need Food Bank will now have to have their temperature taken.
But that won’t include clients because they are being told to wait outside. Prepared food packages are being passed to them through the front door.
These are some of the precautions being taken by the local food bank to keep COVID-19 at bay after locking down the facility on Monday, March 16.
“I went out out and probably bought the last two dispensers of hand sanitizer for the Maple Ridge and Pitt Meadows food banks and the last two no-touch thermometers,” said executive director Mary Robson.
Nancy Nagy, volunteer coordinator and client services manager with the Friends In Need Food Bank, explained that everyone’s temperature entering the building is being recorded on a sheet of paper and everyone is being asked the standard questions – if they have been in contact with somebody who has been diagnosed with the virus or if they have been out of the country recently.
Anyone answering yes to those questions is being sent home for a two-week period of self isolation.
They have already sent home several individuals, said Robson, either because of travel or they are in the high risk category for catching the virus. Hope For Freedom Society volunteers have taken their place.
“If we lose them we will be in real trouble,” said Robson.
Already one-third of their volunteer force have notified Robson that they won’t be able to help out for the foreseeable future due to their age or the age of their loved ones.
However, said Robson, younger people, who are now off work, are starting to volunteer.
Current protocol for clients is that a volunteer wearing gloves will go outside and retrieve the client’s identification. They will bring the ID inside where the client’s ticket will be printed that will include a list of items to go into their hamper.
Another volunteer will go around the circuit packing a paper bag with the basic necessities including canned fruit, canned vegetables, canned meat and pasta and perishables like milk, eggs and other items in a plastic bag.
”If there are extras, they will get extras,” said Nagy, but, she said, first and foremost they want to make sure everyone is getting food.
However, the perishable facility did not see much product this past week, noted Robson, and she said, although they saw more totes of food on Wednesday, they saw fewer vegetables and they didn’t see any bread or meat.
If the client is asking for specific items, Nagy added, they are trying to help them out with those items too.
“We are trying to make sure that people with diabetes or are on special diets are getting the food that they need,” she said.
With respect to toilet paper and paper towels, clients are getting either one or the other, said Nagy, unless they are in abundance, then they can have one of each.
Once the client’s food has been picked out for them the volunteer will bring it to the front door to hand it to them.
Now that other organizations have closed, Nagy says she feels that the role of the food bank is more vital than ever in the community.
She said a lot of their clients are very thankful that the food bank is still open.
Donations are still being accepted at the back door of the building at 22726 Dewdney Trunk Rd. in Maple Ridge. Cash donations are also being accepted.
Now Robson is dealing with the possibility of more need with people being laid off from their jobs and she is also tackling the issue if families in need have to be quarantined, how do they access the food they so desperately need.
“”We have a home delivery service, but we’re already maxed out for home deliveries,” noted Robson.
So far only a few families have approached the food bank for temporary service.
They will be waiving the income cut-off and doing temporary registrations that will expire April 30. But, they will be renewed for as long as necessary, added Robson.
Only one of the new temporary registrations is requiring delivery and they will be matching the person up with a volunteer driver.
The food bank is also continuing to provide food to the occupants of the modular housing units on Royal Crescent.
Robson is looking for more money and volunteers. A COVID-19 fundraising campaign is on the Canada Helps website under the Friends In Need Food Bank.
“There’s probably more need out there but, gee, what happens when people are now in isolation?
Questions, she said, she hopes they don’t have to face.
Anyone in need can register by phone at 604-466-3663, extension 206, between 9 and noon from Monday to Friday.