North Grenville’s food banks are poised and ready to meet the demands of the community. The Salvation Army in Kemptville is continuing to run its food bank through the COVID-19 pandemic. Erin Wong of the Salvation Army says that, in order to comply with current health guidelines, they are operating on an appointment-only basis, so they can limit the number of people who come to the food bank at once. “The food is prepared in advance and we are putting the baskets right into the vehicle,” Erin says. “There is minimal contact.”
In order to minimize the number of trips food bank clients need to make, they are providing them with two weeks-worth of supplies instead of just one. They are also planning on keeping up with their Easter tradition of providing a ham, and many of the other food items needed to make an Easter meal, in the baskets. They are making deliveries for those who are in isolation and can’t come to the Salvation Army to pick up the supplies themselves. Erin says everything is kept as confidential as possible for all their clients. “Anonymity is important,” she says.
The Army are expecting that they will be receiving quite a few new clients because of the job losses associated with COVID-19. To address this, they have waived their application process and are now operating on a no-questions-asked protocol for all food bank users. “We have seen the need already with a handful of new clients,” Erin says. “I suspect there will be much more as things go on.”
The food bank is currently scheduling appointments on Tuesdays and Thursdays, but will consider adding another day, if they see the need. “We will never turn anyone away,” says Erin. Thanks to a very successful Fill-A-Bag campaign this year, they are ready to meet the needs of the community. “There was such an outpouring of generosity with Fill-A-Bag,” Erin says. “Provision has been put into place.”
People can call 613-258-3583 from Monday and Friday to schedule an appointment. The Salvation Army food bank is at 2 Oxford Street in Kemptville. “We want people to know we are there,” she says.
The Knights of Columbus are also prepared to support the community through the COVID-19 pandemic. They have created the Knight’s Emergency Response Team (KERT) to try and help the community in any way they can during this difficult time. The Knights of Columbus Supreme Council, based in the United States, has put together a guidebook to help local councils address the pandemic in their communities. The Leave No Neighbour Behind initiative encourages local councils to support their families, parishes, and community through this health crisis.
KERT Chair, Jim McManaman, says the Knights of Columbus are focusing on making sure their food bank is ready to respond to any increased need they might see over the next few months. They are also willing to help those who are self isolating with getting necessary prescriptions, groceries, and bag tags. Jim says safety is of the utmost importance, and they are taking all the necessary precautions to make sure the food they deliver is safe and their volunteers are able to practice physical distancing while serving those in need.
The Food Bank is in good shape when it comes to responding to the needs of the community. They collected lots of food at Christmas time, and had a record year for the Sweetheart Brunch in February. “We will help as much as we can, based on the number of volunteers,” Jim says. “Right now, we have enough of our own members.”
The Knights of Columbus will also be keeping in touch with Erin from the Salvation Army to see how they can work together to support the community. As mentioned, the Salvation Army is operating mainly by appointment for pick-ups, and Jim says that the Knights would be willing to help with deliveries if needed. “We will be keeping in contact with Erin,” he says. “If the demand goes through the roof, we will help out.”
Even though the Knights of Columbus food bank is in good shape, they are always looking for donations and people willing to help. To donate, volunteer, or access the food bank, call food bank manager David Habberjam at 613-258-3683, or Jim at 613-258-7513.