The head of the Windsor-Essex Food Bank Association (WEFBA) is calling on residents to donate food, cash and even gift cards, as the region's food banks steadily run out of supply during the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic.
June Muir, CEO of the Unemployed Help Centre (UHC) in Windsor and the president of the WEFBA said the region's food banks — including the food bank at the UHC — only have enough supplies to last another 10 days.
That's cause for concern, especially since Muir said her organization served approximately 190 families on Thursday — approximately 100 more than usual.
At the same time, Muir said recent layoffs initiated by companies trying to limit the spread of COVID-19 between employees — including the indefinite layoffs issued to employees at the Fiat Chrysler Automobiles Windsor Assembly Plant on March 18 — are resulting in even more people relying on the region's food banks.
"We know in our own city that people are getting laid off," she said. "People identified they were just laid off."
Despite the steadily declining supply of food, Muir said her organization is continuing to support anyone who comes to the UHC.
Rather than allowing visitors to pick up their desired items using grocery carts, however, staff at the UHC are constructing pre-made food boxes filled with essential supplies that are passed down a stainless steel table to ensure staff and visitors maintain a six-foot distance.
"It's passed on and then we move on to the next person," Muir said. "We're getting the food out, but we're not allowing anyone in the food bank, because we want to make sure our staff is safe. We want to make sure the clients are safe. We want to make sure everybody's safe."
Watch Linda Davidson talk about the Unemployed Help Centre's food bank with CBC Windsor's Jacob Barker:
As an additional precaution, Linda Davidson — food bank coordinator at the UHC — said staff are wearing gloves as an added precaution. Hand sanitizer is also readily available.
"It's safe for us, as well as safe for them," she said.
Muir said that her organization is continuing to accept donations of food, as well as cash and gift cards to give families a chance to purchase the food they need, rather than rely on pre-made boxes.
Davidson said the UHC ran out of its milk supply on Friday, pointing to the dairy product as one example of the kinds of food in need.