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Glace Bay Food Bank closes dining room during COVID-19 crisis

The Glace Bay Food Bank received 3,750 pounds of potatoes from Compton Brothers Inc. in Morell, P.E.I., before Christmas and now, with job layoffs and business closures due to restrictions put in place to limit the spread of COVID-19, the food bank is dealing with quickly depleting supplies to help meet increasing demand. CONTRIBUTED/GLACE BAY FOOD BANK
The Glace Bay Food Bank received 3,750 pounds of potatoes from Compton Brothers Inc. in Morell, P.E.I., before Christmas and now, with job layoffs and business closures due to restrictions put in place to limit the spread of COVID-19, the food bank is dealing with quickly depleting supplies to help meet increasing demand. CONTRIBUTED/GLACE BAY FOOD BANK
GLACE BAY, N.S. —

Food banks in New Waterford and Glace Bay have made changes to how they provide their services in keeping with the restrictions put in place to limit the spread of COVID-19.

The Glace Bay Food Bank closed its dining room after Premier Stephen McNeil announced the provincial state of emergency and limited public gatherings. One of these restrictions is limiting the number of people that can be in a social setting to under five, unless for work purposes — where social distancing (staying six feet away) must still be practised.

Volunteers and staff are the only ones regularly allowed in the Glace Bay Food Bank building. Hot meals are available for takeout and clients can get them at the front door, one at a time, maintaining a six-foot distance from others there for the same purpose.

The grocery orders are also being distributed differently.

Only one person is allowed in the building at a time to collect their food items. The others must wait outside, not touch others waiting who don’t live in the same home and keep a minimum distance of six feet (or two metres) from each other.

Michelle Kalbhenn stands in front of the Glace Bay Food Bank on Hector Street in this file photo.
Michelle Kalbhenn stands in front of the Glace Bay Food Bank on Hector Street in this file photo.

Although clients are grateful they can still get their daily meals and groceries, food bank co-ordinator Michelle Kalbhenn knows they are disappointed they can’t eat in their dining room.

“That’s their family atmosphere,” she said. “It’s the same people who come here everyday.”

In January, the Glace Bay Food Bank was dealing with the good issue of having well-stocked shelves. Now, only a couple of months later, increased demand has brought back the all too familiar problem of needing more donations.

“Our shelves are emptying fast,” Kalbhenn said.

The increased need most likely reflects the high number of people without work as many businesses in Cape Breton had to close as per public health measures to stop the spread of the highly contagious novel coronavirus which causes COVID-19. And demand has increased so much Kalbhenn said they are filing many new clients as anonymous to speed up food collection.

“We take their name and information like how many people are in their family, and we will create a file in our system when this is all over,” she said. “But right now, if we create a file with each new client, it will take 10-15 minutes and that will cause a lineup, which we don’t want.”

The New Waterford Food Bank is also limiting grocery pickups to one person at a time, by appointment only, if possible. The food is laid out on a table, the client collects and packs their own food, then volunteers disinfect the area before the next person comes in. People waiting for their appointments must wait outside and practice social distancing.

Brenda Sewell is director of family services for the New Waterford and Glace Bay Salvation Army and oversees the food banks at both locations.

Like the Glace Bay Food Bank, Sewell said they are also in need of donations to meet demand during the state of emergency and possibly afterwards as well.

“I think the need is going to be even greater in the weeks to come,” she said.


FOOD BANK FACTS

  • Donations to Glace Bay Food Bank: 

E-transfer: glacebayfoodbank@gmail.com
Mail: P.O. Box 552, Glace Bay, N.S., B1A 6G4
In person: 2 Hector St., Glace Bay

  • Donations to New Wateford Food Bank: 

By appointment: 902-849-7886


Sewell works out of the Glace Bay Salvation Army, where a Plexiglas divider has been installed to protect her while she works. This includes helping people with their provincial heating rebate forms, which has an extended deadline until after the restrictions are lifted.

“We all have to stick together,” she said.

Appointments are needed to drop off donations of food or money for the services provided by the Salvation Army.

Sewell said she can be reached at the Glace Bay location on weekdays from 9 a.m.-3 p.m. and by phone at 902-849-7886 to set up appointments.

The Glace Bay Food Bank is also open weekdays until 3 p.m. for in-person donations, which can be done one person at a time, without an appointment. They have also set up an account to receive e-transfers (glacebayfoodbank@gmail.com) and by mail.

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