Covid-19 has put a lot of people out of work and left them and their families without enough to eat. Help is available, but some people aren't coming forward for help from local food banks.
Some people who need food simply don't know it is available. Others may feel uncomfortable about asking for it. They needn't. Renfrew County's food banks are run by caring neighbours who understand the stress of the times and the importance of confidentiality.
"There is no shame in using a food bank," says Terry Newcombe of the Madawaska Valley Food Bank in Barry's Bay. "These are tough times, and food banks exist because we understand your needs and are here for you."
The volunteers who run Renfrew County's food banks want everyone in need to get help. "As a life-long resident of our community I have come to realize that our efforts at the food bank are only serving a small percentage of the truly needy people out there," says Dan Harrington, of the Killaloe Food Bank. "Stigma plays a huge role in this situation." One way they keep things confidential is by giving clients gift cards to purchase food on their own.
"For those who are shy to come to the food bank, they can connect with us by phone or email and arrangements can be made - dependent on each request," says Pat Tait of Arnprior's food bank. "Often, if they phone, especially during these stressful times, we will have their package ready to go so there is no waiting around - although with our new process (prepackaging) we are finding there is minimal wait time, and are hearing fewer stigma issues," says Ms. Tait. Other food banks have similar ways of ensuring confidentiality.
"Our volunteers agree to non-disclosure when starting with us, to protect clients' confidentiality," says John Kilborn of St. Joseph’s Food Bank – Pembroke. "If potential clients wish information regarding the food bank they can, if they have internet access,view our website- www.stjosephsfoodbank.wixsite.com. Or they can phone 613-732-3807 and leave a message. They can expect a reply within 24 hours."
Although St. Joseph's does not do delivery on its own, since the start of the pandemic, Mental Health Services Renfrew County, Carefor, and the Renfrew County Roman Catholic Board of Education (until the end of the school year) all took on the responsibility of delivery to their clients. "This is a win-win situation for both us and the clients as we are able to pre package orders and have them ready for pickup on Monday morning," says Mr. Kilborn.
"We are especially concerned about self-isolating seniors in our rural communities who have an especially hard time reaching out or accepting help," says volunteer Cheryl Paquette of the Petawawa Pantry food bank.
"The Petawawa Pantry is still new and we believe that many people who need help simply don't know it is available," she says. "Others may feel bad or ashamed about asking for help or worried about what other people may think."
The food bank in Golden Lake is called Sharing Place - Enaji Madinamage MidJm. Its coordinator, Dale Benoit-Zohr, says discretion and confidentiality are important. "People can call us directly (Dale - 613 635-1904, or Sharlene - 613 639 9380) seven days a week, and we can deliver if they do not want to come pick it up," she says. Emergency food calls are delivered or picked up within an hour,with automatic delivery to seniors people with disabilities. "If requested, we can deliver food to their vehicles in our parking lot, which is a little more discreet.
The Cobden and District Food Bank has a telephone and sets up appointments for food pickup. They do the majority of pickups on
Mondays. "The clients pull up, pick up, and leave," says Bonnie Helferty, the coordinator. "It works well. We can appreciate privacy."
The Madawaska Valley Food Bank in Barry's Bay offers confidentiality of all private information that clients provide in order to receive services (contact information, sources of income, living expenses). They collect clients' financial information only because the bank's parent organization, Feed Ontario, is required to provide statistics to the government. "This is all collected in a private conversation between our intake worker and the client," says Mr. Newcombe. He recommends that clients worried about confidentiality, "Come to our twice-a-month food bank sessions towards the end of the two-hour window, when it is less crowded. They can also arrange in advance to have a friend or neighbour pick up for them."
The first step for people who need help is to phone your local food bank - it's important to go to the one nearest you and stick with it, so they can have a steady sense of what they need - and set up a way to get help that works for you. Volunteers with local food banks understand how stressful this is for you and will do all the can to help.
Here is contact information for food banks in the area:
Arnprior and District Food Bank
295 Albert Street, Box 463, Arnprior, ON K7S 3L9
(St. John Chrysostom Church bsmt)
Open: Mondays, 9:30 am – 12:00 noon
Calabogie and Area Food Bank
4984 Calabogie Road, Box 149, Calabogie, ON K0J 1H0
(under Calabogie Pharmacy)
Open: 2nd and 4th Thursdays, 9 to 10 am
Cobden and District Food Bank
58 Main Street, Cobden, ON K0J 1J0 (in Helferty Insurance building)
Open: Mondays, 9 am -12 noon, or call for appointment
Deep River Area Food Bank
117 Banting Drive, Deep River, ON K0J 1P0
(Deep River Hospital basement, east end)
Phone: 613-584-3333 ext. 7910 (leave message)
Open: Mondays, 10 am – 1 pm (not open stat holidays).
Eganville and District Community Food Bank
165 John St., Box 164, Eganville, ON K0J 1T0
Open: 3rd & 4th Wednesdays, 10 am to 12 noon
Killaloe Food Bank
Location: 12 North Street, (rear entrance), Killaloe, ON K0J 2A0
Open: Every 2nd Tuesday, 3:30- 5:30 p.m., with exact dates on the food bank Facebook page
Madawaska Valley Food Bank
(serving Barry's Bay, Palmer Rapids, Madawaska, and Whitney)
Location: 8 Martin St, Barry's Bay
Open: Jan – Oct: 2nd & 4th Tuesdays, 9:30 to 11:30 a.m.
Nov – Dec: 1st & 3rd Tuesdays, 9:30 to 11:30 a.m.
3468-B Petawawa Blvd. (in Bridgeway Mall), Petawawa K8H 1X3
Open: Tuesday 1 to 4 pm, Thursday 6 to 8 pm
Renfrew and District Food Bank
115 Veterans Dr., Renfrew, ON K7V 2R5 (in the Armouries)
Open: last 3 Tuesdays each month:
* 3rd last Tuesday, 9 am - 12 noon
* 2nd last Tuesday, 12 noon - 3 pm
* last Tuesday, 3 pm - 6 pm
The Sharing Place - Enaji Madinamage MidJm (Golden Lake)
1118 Lake Dore Road, Golden Lake (across from the pharmacy)
St. Joseph’s Food Bank – Pembroke
295 First Ave., Pembroke, ON K8A 6X9
(Holy Name Catholic Church annex)
Open: Mondays, 9:30 am-12:30 pm (if Monday is a holiday, Tuesdays instead)