Tens of thousands of people in New Brunswick lost all of the food in their fridges and freezers when they lost power during post-tropical storm Arthur. (Candyce Sellars/CBC)

Emergency food assistance is available to people in New Brunswick who remain without power nearly a week after post-tropical storm Storm Arthur.

Social Development Minister Madeleine Dubé made the announcement on Friday.

“The effects of this storm have impacted many families and individuals, including those who normally do not receive support from Social Development, but now find themselves in need of temporary help," she said.

About 20,000 NB Power customers were still waiting for their electricity to be restored as of about 5 p.m. on Friday.

The storm, which brought high winds and heavy rain to the region last weekend, knocked out power to 140,000 homes and businesses at its peak.

Many people lost all of the food in their fridges and freezers.

Social Development has an agreement with the Canadian Red Cross to help provide emergency social services, including food, to people who are in immediate need following an emergency or disaster, said Dubé.

Families or individuals can be assessed for emergency food assistance through the Canadian Red Cross if they:

  • Do not have power.
  • Have no food remaining in their home.
  • Do not have a means of access to food, including non-perishable food items.
  • Are low-income.

​The Canadian Red Cross can be reached at 1-800-222-9597.

Elizabeth Crawford-Thurber, executive director of the Greener Village Community Food Centre in Fredericton, says she's been hearing from a lot of new people this week who have had to throw out spoiled food and can't afford to replace it.

Crawford says the food bank will be open for extended hours next week, Monday to Friday, from 10 a.m. to 2:30 p.m.

Special arrangements can also be made outside that time, she said.

Spoiled food disposal

For those coping with spoiled food, special disposal bins have been set up across the region. The bins will be emptied daily to avoid odour and attracting animals.

The food waste disposal sites include:​

  • Pennfield Lions Club, 358 Route 175, Pennfield.​
  • Lawrence Station Fire Hall, 120 Dixon Rd., Lawrence Station.
  • Oak Bay Community Hall, 609 Route 170, Oak Bay.​
  • Upper Kingsclear Fire Hall – 22 Mazerolle Settlement Rd. Mazerolle Settlement.​
  • Keswick Valley Fire Hall – 32A Route 617, Burtts Corner.​
  • Keswick Ridge Fire Hall – 171 Route 616, Keswick Ridge.
  • Nashwaak Valley Fire Hall – 20 Durham Bridge Rd., Durham Bridge.​​
  • Hoyt Fire Hall – 6101 Route 101, Hoyt.​
  • Dumfries Fire Hall – 7222 Route 102, Dumfries.​
  • Sun’s Convenience, 2315 Route 101, Beaver Dam.

More bins will be added if necessary.

Cooke Aquaculture providing ice

Meanwhile, for those who still have food and are struggling to keep it safe, ice depots have been set up around the province, courtesy of Cooke Aquaculture.

"You know you lose your food, that's expensive, if it doesn't stay cold," said Cooke employee Jeff Wilson. "Everything is expensive these days."

The company stepped up after talking to the Red Cross and the Emergency Measures Organization, said spokesperson Chuck Brown.

"When we heard that there was a need, that people could use a little help, even just to keep milk cool for a couple days, we said, 'Absolutely,' and just started to work on the logistics from there," he said.

Ice has already been delivered to St. Stephen, Fredericton, Woodstock, and Meductic, said Brown. Deliveries were also expected to be made to Grand Bay-Westfield and Quispamsis on Friday afternoon.

The company, which is constantly making ice for its own products, will continue to provide the service until power is restored, said Brown.

People are grateful, said Charlotte-The Isles MLA Rick Doucet, who was out delivering some of the ice, and water to people in his riding on Friday.

"People were really overwhelmed," he said. "The spirit of co-operation here is tremendous. It makes it a good place to live."