Local Journalism Initiative
The Hinton Food Bank is reopening their building to serve all clients as they phase out deliveries.
Over the past few months, the Food Bank has seen a significant rise in clients and both Hinton Employment and Learning Place (HELP) and the Hinton Friendship Centre Society helped deliver food hampers to residents.
Bernie Kreiner, chairperson of the food bank, said there were around 60 new families within the first 60 days after mid-March.
The influx of clients has since slowed down but Kreiner is worried about additional factors that will play into another busy time for the food bank.
As Canada Emergency Response Benefit (CERB) and other financial benefits wrap up, as well as layoffs taking full effect, the food bank could see many clients in need of its services.
Some people may see some repayment obligations as they find out that they weren’t eligible for CERB payments, employment benefits, or other funds, Kreiner said.
While it’s hard to predict, Kreiner said that food banks across Canada fear these factors will have big impacts on their communities.
“It’s been more difficult to operate but we feel happy we could operate throughout [the pandemic] and in a safe manner. Now we’re adjusting again,” Kreiner said.
Kreiner added that the food bank has appreciated a lot of extraordinary financial donations, which were necessary to meet the increased demand.
Instead of the usual customized hampers, the food bank switched to a standardized hamper throughout the height of the pandemic.
Requested orders are now returning and clients will fill out a form of what they need in order for volunteer staff to put together the items in a cart.
Clients can then pick up their items from the cart and place them in their own grocery bags.
One delivery route was already phased out last week, while the second delivery route will stop in a couple of weeks, Kreiner explained.
“The delivery systems put in place, thanks to Hinton HELP and the friendship centre, were amazing. We didn’t have as many people to deal with at our door,” Kreiner said.
To minimize the number of people entering their building now, some changes in operations have been made.
To avoid lineups at the door, clients are split up into sections.
Residents from the ‘hill’ and out of town can pick up between 6:30 pm to 7:30 pm on Tuesdays, while ‘valley’ residents can pick up between 7:30 pm to 8:30 pm.
“That’s a new thing that has been introduced. This makes it easier to not have a long lineup and avoid social distancing challenges outside the building,” Kreiner said.
Only seven people will enter the building at a time, but with a fairly efficient system, Kreiner is confident things will move quickly and smoothly.
Clients must fill out an order form to bring in for the in-person service, bring grocery bags, come alone, clean hands upon arrival and when leaving, and maintain physical distancing.
All volunteers will be wearing face masks or shields and washing hands at least hourly, stated a release from the Food Bank.
“Please be patient with us as we work out the kinks in this “new normal” service approach,” it stated.
The food bank building is located on 124 Market Street and is open on Tuesday evenings.
Food hampers for those who are sick or in self isolation will still be available through contacting the Hinton Food Bank at (780) 865-6256.