Members of Greater Victoria’s food share network are sending out a plea to the public for more financial support during the COVID-19 pandemic.
The Food Sharing Network is comprised of key community organizations which support the region’s most vulnerable food insecure residents. Groups like the Salvation Army, the Mustard Seed, St Vincent de Paul, St. John the Divine, the Aboriginal Coalition to End Homelessness, Cool Aid, Our Place, and others, including First Nations, Neighbourhood Houses, and seniors facilities are doing everything they can to remain open and deliver nutritious food to those in need within food safety protocols.
Before COVID-19, there were approximately 50,000 people served by these agencies. With increased job losses due to COVID-19, that number is expected to rise.
“People struggling in poverty know that Our Place is a safety net that will serve three meals a day to anyone who needs to eat,” said Grant McKenzie director of communications at Our Place. “The demand for food has definitely increased, and we are currently serving an extra 300 meals per day.”
While the generosity of non-perishable food items is usually gratefully accepted, the agencies are now asking the community to consider financial donations instead to limit the risk of COVID-19 exposure.
“At the same time that we have to reluctantly refuse food donations from members of the community, to reduce contamination and reduce the number of people at our properties, the need for nutritious food and meals has grown,” said Paul Stewart, manager/head chef of Cool Aid’s food services.
Financial donations allow for better control of what is being brought into the facilities, can be used more immediately and allows agencies to save money by buying in bulk.
“People living on the streets and the elderly often have compromised immune systems and pre-existing health conditions,” said Salvation Army spokesperson Patricia Mamic. “Providing quality nourishment is paramount to sustain health. They need immediate, priority and continued care from us. And we are dedicated to doing so by serving over 600 meals a day and distributing emergency food hampers in Victoria during these extremely precarious times.”
For more information on the agencies and how to make donations visit foodsharenetwork.com.