Open in Tough Times
April and May have been busy months. Our staff have been hard at work sourcing new food suppliers when the existing suppliers were facing shortages, reconfiguring our distribution centre to ensure physical distancing and setting up additional Food Bank Neighbourhood Satellites with support from United Way. We also partnered with other Archway programs and community organizations to help distribute food to people who need it most – including seniors’ programs, temporary foreign workers and the Abbotsford School District.
In fact, the area where we saw the most growth was in programs that offered delivery. Starfish Pack program, which provides food for school children, fed 500 students in May and we almost doubled the amount of food deliveries for those in self-isolation in addition to the food hamper delivered to seniors with mobility barriers. Archway Meals on Wheels (MOW) also saw a 65% increase in the need for ready-made meals for seniors and those who are unable to shop and prepare their own food. We stepped up our partnership with MOW to be able to provide more ready-made meals to seniors who couldn’t otherwise afford them.
Despite the great lengths we’ve taken to make sure food is accessible to all during the pandemic, we were surprised to find that some people were staying away in April. Like you, we wanted to know what happened – so we reached out to our guests. Turns out many did not know that delivery had been expanded from only seniors with mobility barriers to anyone who was sick or self-isolating. Some didn’t know we were open, and some stayed away because they were afraid they might catch COVID-19 while out.
Those most vulnerable to food insecurity might not have an email address or consistent access to the internet. Feeding people is our priority, that’s why we see the need to step up our non-digital communication methods, including increased follow-up with guests over the phone and distributing more printed information to frequently visited locations. We will continue to improve these methods of communication and watch and see what the next few months bring. With your support, we’re able to make this outreach possible.
With the economy beginning to re-open, we’re watching to see what the next normal will be. Since the pandemic hit, our fresh and non-perishable food stock has fluctuated. The donated fresh food we have come to depend on has been decreasing, which means more purchasing. Thanks to the amazing financial response of our community and emergency government supports we have been able to purchase close to $73K of necessary food right when we needed it.
Just like the supply of food is unknown, the planned fundraising events that our community has rallied around are uncertain. Archway’s Golf Tournament has had to be changed, and the future of Toys for Tots Christmas Breakfast is being re-imagined. Predicting the future can be scary.
One Thing Is Sure – We Are Here For The Hungry
We know the effects of this pandemic will be long-lasting for some vulnerable groups. Some jobs may never return, and government benefits will end eventually. Through it all, we will continue to feed anyone in need and work with them to meet their personal goals for as long as we can.
If you or someone you know is currently going hungry, please contact us. Asking for help is not always easy, that’s why we are committed to provide confidential and non-judgmental help no matter the circumstances. The Food Bank doesn’t have to be the last resort after exhausting all savings, goodwill from friends and support from family. We want to see people get securely back on their feet. If you need temporary help during these unstable times, please reach out.
Thank You Abbotsford!
Lastly, we are so grateful for the immediate care and action from our community. Without your donations and volunteer time we wouldn’t have been able to ramp up deliveries, ensure that our shelves remained stocked, roll out safety protocols, process fresh food, distribute food hampers and provide culturally appropriate food. Thank you for feeding the hungry in Abbotsford.
Thank you for your service to all who need food. I am happy to be a supporter. Thanks, Jane