Regina Meals Financial institution coping with dramatic enhance in demand

The Regina Food Bank has been an increasingly busy place since the start of the COVID-19 pandemic.

John Bailey, the food bank’s CEO, told the Greg Morgan Morning Show on Wednesday that the number of people accessing the organization’s services in recent weeks has risen by about 50 per cent.

“In real numbers, we go from about 200 hampers a day to, last week, we peaked at 460 so we’re seeing really big jumps that way,” Bailey said. “The support of the community is what’s allowing us to make that happen. As we see that decline in donated food, we’re able to go out and purchase it.”

The Rawlco Day of Caring on March 31 provided much-needed financial support for the Regina and Saskatoon food banks, and Bailey said other people in the community also have helped out with donations of food or cash.

Still, a 50 per cent increase in demand caught Bailey and others off guard. He thought an increase of that size would happen over the course of three or four months as opposed to a matter of weeks.

“For it to happen in such a quick wave was a little bit of surprise, but it speaks to the need in our community that we’re seeing that,” he said. “That many people who never necessarily saw themselves as potential people accessing the food bank now need to.”

Bailey said anyone interested in making a cash donation can do so on the food bank’s website. Food donations also are being accepted — and now one of the food bank’s partners is providing a pickup service.

Bailey noted people can phone Peekaboo Limousine (306-591-5466) and a driver will come to pick up food donations off the callers’ doorsteps.

Peekaboo also is helping out, along with CAA Saskatchewan and school bus companies, with the delivery of hampers.

“As of last week, about 96 per cent of all the hampers we are getting out are either being delivered directly to schools — so the schools can get touch point interaction with their families — or right to people’s doorsteps,” Bailey said.

“We’re trying to do whatever we can to maintain social distancing but still make sure people are getting the food they need.”

Bailey encouraged anyone who might need the food bank’s help to go to its website or call.

“Phone our info line and we can get you set up pretty quickly and hopefully get a hamper to you as soon as possible,” he said.

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