Salvation Army-run food banks along Hwy 16 are already putting a federal grant to use in responding to needs arising from the COVID-19 pandemic.
Nationally, the Salvation Army received $4 million of $100 million provided by the federal government to a variety of food-providing organizations in early April with the Army’s food bank covering Smithers and Houston receiving $20,000, the one in Prince Rupert receiving just over $30,000 and the one in Terrace $25,000.
“So far we’ve been able to make changes with our programs,” reports Lt. Sabrina Silvey of the Prince Rupert Salvation Army.
“Because of safety precautions, we no longer have people in our building, we are now making [food] deliveries to people’s homes,” she said.
“Not only is our food bank still working, but we are delivering everything. We are going to everyone’s door.”
It’s meant dividing up the city into delivery zones, establishing a schedule, which now also includes Port Edward.
This is one area in which the federal grant is helping because deliveries mean there’s extra expense in buying gas, Silvey said.
Deliveries are intended to supply recipients for about a week and there’s no deadline or qualification for registering for assistance. A phone call is all that is needed.
“It used to be once a month,” said Silvey of its food bank. “But now we’ve taken that restriction off.”
Although deliveries do mean extra work, the Army hasn’t had to ask for volunteer assistance just yet.
“At this time we’re not asking for volunteers. We have enough of our own staff to do this,” Silvey said. “We’ve been organized and it’s running smoothly.”
As for its soup kitchen breakfast and lunch service, workers are preparing packages for pick up by clients.
“Money donated here, stays here. That’s helping us serve bigger meals in the soup kitchen right now,” Silvey said.
The Army last week was starting to collect data on local demand but it has been noticing an increase in new clients.
Overall, Silvey reports a continued high level of support from the community in response to people in need who have lost their jobs and have otherwise been affected by the pandemic.
Other Salvation Army food banks along Hwy 16 are also reporting increased demand.
Its food bank and community service covering Houston and Smithers reports a tripling in demand for food distributed in backpacks for students.
And in Terrace, the Army has strengthened connections with other agencies so that it prepares food packages which are then delivered by those other agencies to seniors who are self-isolating.
The Salvation Army in Terrace has also been taking its mobile kitchen to Mills Memorial Hospital, one of three northern hospitals designated as COVID-19 primary care facilities, to provide refreshments for staff members there.
As well as the federal grants assisting the regional Salvation Armies, in Prince Rupert the business community and individual donations to the Salvation Army have shown an increased level of support.
There has been such an out-pouring of donations, Silvey said she couldn’t begin to list them all, and she is so grateful for everyone’s contributions.
“Prince Rupert does ‘community’ well. Prince Rupert is all about team work and coming together and filling a need. I’ve really notice that Prince Rupert is like a big family. When someone is hurting, Prince Rupert gathers around and supports. That is truly amazing.”
With files from K-J Millar
K-J Millar | Journalist
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