'Grateful to be there to help:' Yellowknife social services feed families in COVID-19 isolation

·2 min read
Family preservation workers Eugene Foisy, Anansia Leslie, June Lewis and Kelly Norris started preparing hampers in October for families who needed to isolate and weren't able to get groceries. (Submitted by Kelly Norris - image credit)
Family preservation workers Eugene Foisy, Anansia Leslie, June Lewis and Kelly Norris started preparing hampers in October for families who needed to isolate and weren't able to get groceries. (Submitted by Kelly Norris - image credit)

Going into isolation after a possible exposure to COVID-19 may not be most people's idea of a good time.

But what happens if you also don't have food in the house?

That was the question the family preservation team at the Northwest Territories Health and Social Services Authority's Yellowknife office started asking in September, as COVID-19 cases were rising in the city.

The team wondered how people who needed to go into isolation and who either relied on the food bank, or didn't have a credit card to buy groceries online, were going to eat.

Beginning in October, the team "started preparing for the needs of families that would be isolating and unable to get groceries," said family preservation worker Kelly Norris.

Since then, the team has loaded up its van and delivered hampers full of pantry staples to over 100 families in Yellowknife, Ndilǫ and Dettah.

Submitted by Kelly Norris
Submitted by Kelly Norris

"Each grocery hamper would feed three adults for about five days, ranging on average about $180," said Norris. "They had everything from three types of uncooked meats, vegetables and fruits, canned goods, bread, milk, butter, eggs, pantry items such as pasta and rice, and essential cleaning supplies such as paper towels, cleaner and, in addition to that, toilet paper."

The family preservation team normally works to support parents and children, so Norris said organizing these emergency pandemic food deliveries suited their mission well.

"We generally work with the public and with families that are in need of support, so that wasn't new for us," she said.

Still, she said seeing the positive response from the public has been a moving experience.

"We're happy to be supporting our community, and we were so grateful to be there to help," she said. "And it was wonderful to be able to hear that people were so grateful for the service we were able to provide for our community."

During the worst phases of the pandemic in Yellowknife, the team was delivering around 30 hampers a week.

But with COVID-19 cases now declining in the Yellowknife area, Norris and her colleagues are preparing to wind down the food hamper program "depending on demand."

"If there is a spike in COVID cases, then it would obviously be brought back," she said.

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