The Emergency Food Cupboard at Rideau Community Health Services (RCHS) is ready to help anyone who needs support during this difficult time. Joanne McIntyre is a Community Health Worker at RCHS and is responsible for managing the Emergency Food Cupboard year-round. She says that, although she has seen an increase in demand for food baskets, she thinks the need will increase exponentially as more people see the financial impacts of the mandatory shut down of non-essential services. “We have yet to see the real outcome of all of this,” she says.
Thankfully, Joanne says, RCHS has seen a real spike in donations from the Merrickville-Wolford community since this health crisis began. “We are fortunate that we have gotten a huge amount of donations in,” she says.
While supply doesn’t seem to be a problem right now, Joanne says the products they are always in need of are peanut butter, diced tomatoes, canned tuna, and, of course, toilet paper. Donations don’t have to be name brand items. Sometimes the generic brand actually contains less sugar and salt than their more expensive name brands, and are therefore healthier for Food Cupboard clients.
Healthily Ever After in Merrickville has graciously offered the use of their porch to collect donations in order to limit human contact and keep physical distancing in mind. When there are enough items on the porch, a volunteer delivers it to the Food Cupboard at the RCHS to be sorted and put in boxes for clients. When families come to pick up their groceries, they have been asked to wait in the parking lot and an RCHS employee or volunteer will place the basket in their trunk. The Food Cupboard is also offering to deliver supplies for those who are in isolation and can’t pick up the baskets themselves. In that case, someone will drive to the client’s home and place the supplies on their doorstep, keeping everyone safe and confidentiality intact. “There is no face to face contact,” Joanne says.
Joanne is finding that she is spending a lot of time on the phone with clients, many of whom are missing the face to face interaction they usually get when they come and pick up their monthly basket. “Part of what people are missing is that social contact,” she says. “People would come in and talk while I packed their bag. We are not able to do that right now.”
She wants to ensure that the residents of Merrickville-Wolford are aware that the help of the Food Cupboard is available to the whole community. She understands that circumstances might change, depending on how long the shut down lasts, and wants to make sure that people know that they don’t have to be an existing client of the Food Cupboard or RCHS to access help. Grocery items, fresh produce, and food vouchers to the Merrickville Food Market are all available at the Food Cupboard, no questions asked. “The RCHS is there to help the entire community,” she says. “No judgement.”
Joanne also wants to highlight how much they appreciate the generous support of the Merrickville-Wolford community. “The Food Cupboard exists because of the community,” she says. “The enormous support the community has given under a crisis is mind boggling.”
To get involved with the Emergency Food Cupboard, make a donation, or access services, call Joanne at 613-283-1952 ext. 136, or email her at firstname.lastname@example.org.