HOW WE ARE HELPING:
We operate two food banks and a food distribution hub in an extremely economically challenged region in Cottage County - Highlands East, Ontario. Within a few days of COVID-19 restrictions hitting Ontario, we created a free grocery delivery service for those in need of food but facing challenges getting it due to illness, self-isolation, elderly or immuno-compromised. We also started a delivery service for our food bank members and offered emergency food packages for anyone in our community who needed one-time food bank assistance. As an agency, we are also working with other service providers and neighbouring food banks to help get reliable and timely information into the hands of our regions most vulnerable - from what physical distancing means to temporary changes in how to access other services.
WHY WE ARE STRUGGLING:
Our budget doesn't allow for hiring a marketing specialist. We can't afford paid fundraisers. We are bare bones. Normally, we squeak by with a part-time admin & operations staff that works 8 hours a week and volunteers who do incredible work to pull everything together. But this response has already resulted in cancelled fundraisers at a time when we have seen some of our food donation channels disrupted. We've had to pay for food we normally would get for free. And with the number of people needing help with food increases, we will need more food to meet the needs. Our volunteer base is largely seniors and many with disabilities. Several have had to step away from their normal volunteer work so at the same time our donations have decreased, we've had to temporarily increase staffing hours by 8 hours a week.
IMPACT ON OUR COMMUNITY:
We have a significant number of people who rely on tourism in our community. They have managed to eke through the winter and have depleted their funds. The jobs that normally would open up now and the increases in hours for existing employees....aren't happening for the foreseeable future. Our already economically-challenged community is going to be facing harder times. We need to be there for them. But we can't do it without financial support.