As conditions surrounding COVID-19 continue to change daily, the Sooke Food Bank is seeing an increase in orders and has new protocols in place due to the public health crisis.
No client is allowed in the food warehouse, and volunteers are practising social distancing as they pack hampers and sort food.
Clients now pick up their food in the Sooke Community Hall parking lot, where volunteers bring it out from the warehouse.
“We’re trying to come up with solutions as everything evolves,” Kim Metzger, president of the Sooke Food Bank, said. “We can’t not be there for our clients, we just can’t.”
Most volunteers were observed wearing gloves Thursday as the food hampers were given out.
Metzger said new food donations are put into a separate room and sit for several hours to rid them of the virus before they’re given to clients.
She said people are using social distancing and only a limited number of volunteers are in the warehouse to avoid spreading the virus.
“We’re really hesitant to bring in any more volunteers right now,” Metzger said.
Despite the restrictions, hamper numbers are increasing because more people are self-isolating and not working.
The Sooke Food Bank has seen the demand for food increase by 10 per cent this year, and since the COVID-19 outbreak it has increased another 10 per cent in the last week.
“The need’s great. And that’s why the food bank exists, not only to meet everyday needs of people that are hungry but in situations like this we really have to step up our responsibilities and our duties,” Mike Thomas, a spokesperson for the Sooke Food Bank, said.
The food bank serves more than 650 people every month.
And while the shelves are stocked today, that won’t be the case in just two weeks without donations, Thomas said.
“Cash or electronic donations are really the best right now,” Metzger said.
The food bank is open the first, second, and third Thursday of each month from 9:30 a.m. to 3 p.m. It will open next week as well for anyone who is new to the food bank or needs help. More details can be found on the food bank’s Facebook page or telephone 250-642-7666.