Contributions help Regina Food Bank adapt during COVID-19

Regina Food Bank Entrance. Located 445 Winnipeg St. Photo by Michelle Lerat.

By Michelle Lerat 

More people than ever are utilizing the Regina Food Bank due to the Coronavirus pandemic, changes are being made to ensure safety for employees and clients 

“We’ve still been seeing our usual clients plus some,” said Laura Murray, senior manager of community development at the Regina Food Bank. “We’ve already seen an increase in clients of about 10 percent over the first two weeks while we’ve been working through the pandemic.” 

Murray expects the number of clients to increase as time goes by. Thanks to generous donations the Regina Food Bank can meet the growing needs of the community 

The Rawlco Radio sign and its three Regina stations. Signs are visible in Regina downtown area on Sask Drive. Photo by Michelle Lerat.

“Last week Rawlco Radio held a day of caring event,” said Murray. “They kicked It off with a million-dollar donation to the Regina Food Bank and Saskatoon Food Bank. Overall it raised just under 1.7 million. 

“That was in response to the COVID-19 PandemicIt will definitely be a huge help for keeping our doors open and allowing us to continue to serve clients and purchase the food that is needed to keep the hampers fairly static during this time.” 

Unifor, whose unions employees have been locked out of the Co-Op Refinery since December 3rd, also generously donated $15,000 each to the Regina Food Bank and Charmicheal Outreach in response to the COVID-19 pandemic. 

“I think it’s important,” said Kevin Bittmen, president of Unifor 594. “Even though we are still locked out by our employer, in times of need like this with the COVID-19 crisis, it’s important that we still look out for people that have less or are less fortunate. 

“Even though we are not on our full wages it’s important still that we give back to the community because we’re all going to have to come out of this crisis together.” 

Adjusting to safer service delivery with the increase in clients has been challenging for the food bank 

“We’ve been working to shift everything to a delivery model,” said Murray. “To keep people out of the food bank and to increase that social distancing and hopefully still allow some of our families to get the food that they need. We’ve been doing our best to get a hold of our clients and deliver hampers instead of having them come out.

“Between public transit, or catching a ride with friends or family, or having to take kids out with no school or childcare it’s definitely a huge challenge for many. We’ve been doing our best to get a hold of our clients and deliver hampers instead of having them come out to the food bank.” 

Below is a video showing the safety measures used to ensure social distance guidelines are followed at the Regina Food Bank.

Lisa, who preferred to use only her first name, is a client of the food bank. She is thankful for the Regina Food Bank and the new delivery system. 

“I can’t bring my husband with me today because he’s got COPD,” said Lisa. “He’s doing self-isolation at home, so I’m the only one running in and out of my house … Delivery would be awesome especially when I have to carry two boxes by myself.” 

Murray said that through the generous volunteers the Food Bank is able to deliver food hampers without an added expense to the organization. 

“We are working with our staff and some volunteers,” said Murray. “From partner agencies like the Newo Yotina friendship Center, LP3 transport, Regina Senior Citizen Center, CAA and others [are helping us] deliver.  

“We’re really fortunate for those partnerships who are helping us serve our clients safer and for their contributions.” 

Murray is also thankful for how the Regina community has stepped up during this time. 

“There’s a lot of community coming together throughout this,” said Murray. “It’s good to see but, it’s heartbreaking what finally slowed us down to reach this point. 

“We’re still able to [meet demand] thanks to community support and donations.” 

Murray wants to remind people how they can donate to the Regina Food Bank. 

“Call or go online to make a cash donation,” said Murray. “If you are interested in donating food, we will still accept a donation at the food bank of any non-perishable food or consider purchasing something and leaving it at the grocery store.” 

See the link below to read how one community is practicing faith and worship while adhering to social distancing guidelines.

Faith and social distancing: how religious communities adapt in a pandemic

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