Students, seniors alike looking to food banks for help
'We can use it, we can definitely use it'
Island food banks are looking for help as demand increases during COVID-19 restrictions.
Those who work at the UPEI food bank say while demand is not as high as it was at the start of the pandemic, they are noticing more need than normal.
"Not the crisis, but also not ordinary times. Still a big need, still a big demand," said Sister Sue Kidd, the campus minister at the university. Kidd runs the Chaplaincy Centre where the food bank is located.
At the beginning of COVID, Kidd said they were seeing 80 to 90 students a week looking for help. Then, the food bank hit a "lull" — serving about 40 or so student clients a week. Currently, they are seeing more than 60 students a week needing their services.
She said many of the students she sees expected to be able to work in service jobs while in school. With the increase in restrictions comes a decrease in available hours — and a decrease in money.
Thankfully, donations have remained steady, Kidd said.
"The well seems to replenish as needed," she said. "We are always looking for more, obviously."
Seniors are also facing more need during the pandemic, and new provincial money will go a long way toward helping, said a food bank operator in Kensington.
Theresa Cousins, who runs that food bank, said last week's announcement from the province of money for some food banks, and a food security program for seniors, was welcome news.
Five food banks will receive between $5,000 and $10,000 depending on their size and current need.
They include the South Shore Food Share, the food banks in Kensington and Rustico and the campus food banks at both UPEI and Holland College.
"This will definitely help us," Cousins said. "People are, they're great around here, they'll donate forever. But, you know, if you don't have it, you can't donate it anymore."
The money is intended to help keep up inventory and stock meat and dairy along with non-perishable food items.
"We can use it, we can definitely use it," Cousins said.
"In Kensington, most of our food was donated through the churches. And of course, now there's no churches. People aren't attending like they did. So we're not receiving what we had before."
The province announced it will deliver pre-cooked meals to some seniors, including those who have to self-isolate, are a close contact or are facing financial challenges.
Meals will be delivered directly on Jan. 26 and Jan 28, and each delivery includes three meals.
People can register online or call 1-866-770-0588, or call 211 for help with the web-based form.