Coronavirus: London Food Bank stepping up coronavirus precautions, expecting increase in visits

The London Food Bank is taking extra precautions amid the COVID-19 pandemic along with preparing for an increase in public visits.

The Middlesex-London Health Unit has upgraded the food bank to Phase 3, meaning it is now required to have visitors wait outside and be brought in one by one to pick out their items.

“They have now moved us to what’s called a Phase 3, which means people coming to the food bank for help will still be helped but will have to wait outside and be brought in, one person or one family at a time,” said London Food Bank co-director Glen Pearson.

With intensified measures now being taken by the food bank, it is hoping to make the facility safer not only for visitors but staff as well.

“With not everyone gathering and waiting in the waiting room because sometimes we have up to 100 people in there; it will be safer for them. Also, around the food bank, we’ve set up sanitation stations and trying to keep everyone a certain distance apart,” said Pearson.

As the COVID-19 pandemic continues to progress and grocery store shelves are picked over, the London Food Bank is preparing for an increase in visits.

“When people realize it’s getting more and more difficult to get food because maybe stores are out, we expect more people to be coming to the food bank,” said Pearson.

Despite the increase in visits expected, Pearson says the food bank has every intention of making it through this rough time.

“We fully expect it this week. Other food banks are facing the same thing. In fact, some of the food banks across the country and in the United States have had to close because of the lack of supplies of food,” he said.

“Our food bank has every intention of staying open.”

One way for the London Food Bank to keep the shelves stocked is food drives held throughout the year. A crucial spring food drive that was set for April has now been cancelled due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

Pearson says that in an effort to keep stocking shelves, the spring food drive will be going online this year.

“The health unit doesn’t want too many people running around and volunteering in grocery stores so we’re going to switch it to a virtual food bank, and we’re in the process of developing that website with the help of Brescia College,” Pearson said.

“People will be able to donate online and can also select some of the things they may want us to get.”

Whatever the future of COVID-19 holds, Pearson says long-term plans are in the works that will help them serve the London community as long as possible.

“Because we supply so many agencies and individuals, we have to plan for the long term, not just the short term,” he said. “We’re looking at all these things and realize if we want to be here a year from now, we have to make some big plans, and that’s what we’re working on.”

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