The Chair of Grunthal Caring Hands Food Bank says it is too early to say whether COVID-19 will result in many more people using their services.

Rob Warkentin says at last week's distribution, they had about 50 families come out, which is slightly higher than normal. Warkentin says he anticipates their numbers will probably slowly creep up, until COVID-19 is behind us.

According to Warkentin, their food bank experienced a first, last week. For the first time ever, they did pre-orders and setup prearranged times for clients to come in. This helped to limit the number of people at the food bank.

"We could sort of manage our volunteers that way, so there is less contact and also then our clients could come at a specific time and sort of only have limited number of people in the parking lot," explains Warkentin.

Using this method, packages were then brought out to the parking lot for clients.

"It seemed to go over quite well," he says. "We worked out a few bugs and I think our next distribution day it will work even smoother."

Warkentin says using this strategy also requires the use of fewer volunteers. Whether volunteers are uncomfortable going out in public at this time, or happen to be more vulnerable, there is less of a need for their services right now.

"Before, we had sort of lots of volunteers on distribution day helping with packing and that," explains Warkentin. "With the pre-registration for our clients, it allows us to make those packages ahead of time, so we are bringing in fewer volunteers at a time."

With COVID-19 really only grabbing hold of Manitoba in the last few weeks, Warkentin says it is still too early to say whether or not this has had an impact on their donations. He notes their shelves are still in pretty good shape, though that can change in an instant. Warkentin says right now they have a real need for pasta and pasta sauce, as well as canned meats. Financial donations are also appreciated. 

"I have a suspicion that our donations are going to drop a bit," admits Warkentin.

Meanwhile, the Grunthal Caring Hands Food Bank has issued the following statement to its clients:

The next number of distribution days will look quite different from what you are used to. In light of the current COVID-19 situation, we are implementing a few changes immediately:

  • There will be no admittance in the hut. Food hampers will be brought outside.
  • Please use bathroom facilities prior to coming to the food bank.
  • Please respect a 6ft zone around all volunteers and clients of the food bank.
  • Please be patient as this will be a learning experience for everyone.
  • If you know of others that use the food bank but do not have social media, please let them know that there will be changes and to be patient with our volunteers and other clients.
  • As always, line ups will only be starting at 1:45.
  • There will be no inside registrations. However, if you are new or need to re-register, a form may be sent home with you asking for information. Please do your best to fill out the information and get it back to us at the next distribution.