Food banks up and running in St. John's to help desperate clients

The Salvation Army had 120 people come to its food bank in St. John's between Wednesday morning and Thursday morning, six days after a blizzard shut down the city.

Food banks were unable to open until they were given the green light on Wednesday. Some people were in dire need, having gone without food for several days.

"Vulnerable people are struggling out there and we just want to be here to meet the needs as they come to us," said Maj. Rene Loveless of the Salvation Army.

By Thursday afternoon, things were slowing down, which Loveless said was "good news."

Mark Quinn/CBC

As a bonus for those in need, the Salvation Army will be hosting a community meal Sunday at 5 p.m. at its New Hope Centre in the George Street United Church. Loveless said they hope to serve a hot meal to as many people as possible.

CBC News also visited Bridges to Hope on Thursday, shortly after manager Jody Williams opened the food bank for the first time since the storm.

There had been no access to the building since the day before the storm, making Williams anxious as he sat home during the state of emergency.

"Our clients, generally, their cupboards are never fully stocked so I don't know how they got through," he said.

Mark Quinn/CBC

Williams said many privileged people around the city lived through what his clients live with permanently — no heat, no internet, and no idea where their next meal would come from.

"A lot of us experienced for the first time what I would call major food insecurity," he said. "That's the norm here at the food bank."

Williams said he expects to go through a few weeks' worth of products in the next few days, as the city returns to normal and people can get out of their houses.

The regular Bridges to Hope volunteers weren't able to get to the building on Thursday, so Williams put the call out to anyone who could walk to their Cookstown Road headquarters to help out.

Jeremy Eaton/CBC

He was met with a mix of locals and Royal Newfoundland Constabulary officers who came together to get the food out to people in need.

Meanwhile, Facebook groups set up during the storm to help people have led to an influx of donations for Bridges to Hope.

People from all over the world have been in touch, prompting Williams to put a button on the website asking people to "Help us help others during this time of crisis." Clicking the button provides financial donation options for the centre, which Williams said will be able to food donations next week.

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