Guelph Meals Financial institution wants extra volunteers and non-perishables as enhance in want anticipated

The Guelph Food Bank changed its delivery model from a shipping model to prepackaged emergency hampers and implemented physical distancing to make the experience more safe

The Guelph Food Bank says it has not experienced a noticeable increase in need during the COVID-19 crisis, but because many school and business food drives have been cancelled it is facing a shortage in non-perishable food items.

The average number of unique clients serviced per month has stayed relatively steady at 1,700, even in response to COVID-19, said Pauline Cripps, administrator for the Guelph Food Bank.

“We are getting a lot of feedback from our clients that they are trying not to come in unless they absolutely have to, so it’s been very manageable up until this point because I think people are too concerned about having to venture out right now,” said Cripps.

The food bank expects an increase in clients once lockdown restrictions begin to be lifted, said Cripps.

The Guelph Food Bank changed its delivery model from a shipping model to prepackaged emergency hampers and implemented physical distancing to make the experience more safe during the pandemic.

“That way we are controlling the flow of people going through so we don’t have a buildup like we would have with our shopping model and the hampers are pre-packed so we are minimizing the number of things people are touching,” said Cripps.

The Guelph Food Bank is also expected to need more volunteers once lockdown restrictions are lifted because a number of current volunteers will be headed back to work. Cripps said the organization is taking applications for people looking to volunteer.

The food bank put out an earlier call for volunteers earlier in the lockout and Cripps said she was delighted with the response.

“All I can say is the community has been really amazing in stepping up and responding to the call. We are very appreciative for the help and support we have received,” said Cripps.

Although the number of clients the Guelph Food Bank services has not gone up considerably, it is currently experiencing a shortage in non-perishable food. Cripps said that shortage is due to the number of spring food drives that were cancelled in the community due to COVID-19.

“All of the schools and businesses that would normally been doing food drives during our spring food drive are all shut down,” said Cripps.

On the plus side, said Cripps, the Guelph Food Bank has seen an increase in fresh food items donated from the public, as well as from many restaurants. That increase not only helps the food bank, but also the network it supports, she said.

The Guelph Food Bank is accepting monetary donations through its web site, the mail and in person at its Crimea Street location.

On Thursday, a $1,000 donation was accepted from the Guelph Strong campaign, which was started by Consign your Curves with support from Smiles Apparel.

Carlie Roberts, founder of Consign Your Curves, said she was thrilled to see the way the community was rallying during the COVID-19 pandemic and wanted to give back. She contacted a fellow local businessperson, Jen van Lankveld at Smiles Apparel, to design and print the slogan on lounge wear, like hoodies, sweat pants and sweat shirts.

“I was so proud of the efforts and that Guelph was so strong and united, I wanted to put it on my chest, to be proud and wear it as an emblem,” said Roberts. “Everybody wants to be cozy in isolation, you want that comfort item. A sweat shirt is like the french onion soup of comfort wear.”

The Consign Your Curves store on Elizabeth Street, which sells consignment clothing for sizes 12 and up, as well as locally-produced goods, has been closed 44 days as of Thursday because of COVID-19, but still sells through its web site.

The fundraising effort sold over 200 units, which resulted in a $1,000 cheque to the Guelph Food bank.

“I always say we’re a big city with a small town feel, and I feel like Guelph Strong will resonate way past COVID and into everything we do as a city moving forward,” said Roberts. “As a small business I can’t do very much, so this is a way I can do a little bit more for my community.”

At the University of Guelph, the Guelph Student FoodBank is currently distributing gift cards with the assistance of Student Affairs and Alumni Affairs. Coordinator Clarissa Shepherd said Guelph Student FoodBank is currently accepting monetary donations and grocery gift cards to distribute to those most in need and donations to the University of Guelph’s Highest Priority Fund.

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