Covid-19 has put a lot of people out of work and left them and their families without enough to eat. Help is available, but some people aren’t coming forward for help. Some people who need help simply don’t know it is available. Others may feel overwhelmed or are reticent to ask for help. It isn’t unusual for people to worry about what their neighbours might see. Above: Killaloe Food Bank volunteers Janice Henry, Andrew Capobianco, and Dan Harrington package orders. (photo supplied)
“There is no shame in using a food bank,” says Terry Newcombe of the Madawaska Valley Food Bank. “These are tough times, and food banks exist because we understand your needs and are here for you. Anyone who might see you using the food bank is probably in the same situation as you, and may even be relieved to see they’re not alone in their need.”
The volunteers who run Renfrew County’s food banks want everyone in need to get help. “As a life-long resident of our community I have come to realize that our efforts at the food bank are only serving a small percentage of the truly needy people out there,” says Dan Harrington, of the Killaloe Food Bank. “Stigma plays a huge role in this situation. We are starting to shift our focus to provide home deliveries in an anonymous manner and reaching out to others to inform them that help is available and it can be done in a confidential manner.”
One method they find helpful in Killaloe is to provide clients with gift cards so people can purchase food on their own.
The Madawaska Valley Food Bank offers confidentiality of all private information that clients provide in order to receive services (contact information and sources of income). They collect clients’ financial information only because the bank’s parent organization, Feed Ontario, is required to provide statistics to the government. “This is all collected in a private conversation between our intake worker and the client,” says Mr. Newcombe.
He recommends that clients worried about confidentiality, “Come to our twice-a-month food bank sessions towards the end of the two-hour window, when it is less crowded. They can also arrange in advance to have a friend or neighbour pick up for them.”
The first step for people who need help is to phone your local food bank — it’s important to go to the one nearest you and stick with it, so they can have a steady sense of what they need — and set up a way to get help that works for you. Volunteers with local food banks understand how stressful this is for you and will do all they can to help.
Madawaska Valley Food Bank
(serving Barry’s Bay, Combermere, Wilno, Palmer Rapids, Madawaska, and Whitney)
Location: 8 Martin St., Barry’s Bay
Open: 2nd & 4th Tuesdays of every month, 9:30 to 11:30 a.m.
Killaloe Food Bank
Location: 12 North Street (rear entrance), Killaloe, ON K0J 2A0
Open: Every 2nd Tuesday, 3:30- 5:30 p.m., with exact dates on the food bank Facebook page
Editor’s note: The above hours have been corrected for MV Food Bank.