Regina Meals Financial institution in search of financial donations to deal with elevated demand

As COVID-19 keeps hitting the economy, the Regina Food Bank is putting out the call for financial donations so it can deliver food hampers to people in need.

To that end, CEO John Bailey is asking anyone who can to make a donation through its website, a request he admitted doesn’t happen too often.

“We can just go right to our retail partners, use our economies of scale, use our buying power to buy exactly what we need, have it brought in and then we can deliver it to people as quickly as possible,” he said.

Even prior to the outbreak of the virus, the food bank has been operating at full capacity since September, he added.

When that happens, there are delays families experience when waiting for their next food hamper.

“The wait time from the time you get your first hamper until you can book into your next one is 17 days instead of 14 days,” he said.

Now with people getting laid off work and kids being sent home from school indefinitely, Bailey said the food bank is expecting demand for food hampers to increase.

“It’s an anticipated growth that could be exponential,” he said.

Add to that the cancellation of 900 volunteer hours for the rest of March (worked by approximately 300 volunteers) and the food bank is the opposite of stress-free, he said.

“(The volunteer hours have) essentially been wiped away. In addition to all the challenges of extra cleaning and just keeping things safe, we’re also short 900 hours of human capacity to deliver our mission,” he said.

Still, he commended the staff putting in extra work at the food bank: “I can’t say enough about the efforts of our team.”

Along with increased cleaning, distancing and glove protocols the food bank has implemented, Bailey said this week the organization will switch to delivering food in grab-and-go type bags and boxes instead of milk crates.

That’s to prevent the potential spread of COVID-19, he said.

“People receiving it can just receive it and walk away,” he said. “And we’re not worried about trying to clean and disinfect the (milk crates) that have so many nooks and crannies.”

Despite the added stress, demands and cleaning protocols, Bailey said he’s looking forward to announcing new food partnerships next Monday to help feed more people in need.

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