Feezah Jaffer is the executive director of the Surrey Food Bank. (File photo)

Whalley

COVID-19: Surrey Food Bank rises to meet challenge but real test is yet to come

Executive director says donors, staff and volunteers are rallying but next few weeks will be critical

Despite being one of the most challenging times in its history, donors and volunteers are triumphantly rising to the occasion at the Surrey Food Bank – but the next seven days or so will be a true test of its mettle.

“What’s really been heartening has been the monetary donations that have been coming in,” said executive director Feezah Jaffer. “But we’re also getting a lot more calls from clients saying, ‘can we register because we’re getting laid off.’

“We’re going to see an uptick in numbers in the next couple of weeks for sure.”

Jaffer said with restaurants either closing down or being ordered to switch to take-out only, donations of fresh produce and dairy have been strong, but she expects that to change within the next week.

“Next week it’s going to be interesting to see what our donations look like because that will be the true test of what is happening,” she said.

Jaffer while things like canned fish and meat, pasta and pasta sauce, along with baby formula are in high need right now, cash donations are most welcome. (Click here to donate.)

“Of course, money always goes farther because we can go directly to the farmers, directly to the suppliers to buy those items as well.”

COVID-19: Rogers to provide Food Bank Canada with one million meals

So, what’s life like for staff and volunteers at the food bank these days?

“So much has changed,” said Jaffer. “We’re really working hard to keep the guidelines around physical distancing and we’re down to a skeleton crew of volunteers and staff.”

All off-site depots have been closed and hours at the food bank in Whalley have been adjusted, she added.

Plus, in the spirit of social distancing, the food bank is limiting the number of clients entering the building to five at a time.

“Everybody’s wearing gloves; we’re sanitizing everything, our volunteers are keeping distance from each other, our staff is keeping distance from each other.”

COVID-19: Help for agriculture industry as Farm Credit Canada receives $5B increase

Regular distribution is 9:30 a.m. to 1 p.m., Monday, Tuesday, Thursday and Friday.

“Our seniors distribution, after this week, we’re going to be folding them into our regular time, we’re not going to stay longer, and then our evening distribution, we’re going to be suspending that,” Jaffer told the Now-Leader on March 16. “I want my staff to be safe as well so I’m going to let them go home early.”

Jaffer said the time dedicated to seniors, alternate Wednesdays from 1:30 p.m. to 3 p.m., is being temporarily suspended.

“Starting April 1, we’re going to fold them into our regular time, still on the Wednesday.”

Despite all the changes and challenges, Jaffer says the morale is “actually pretty good” at 10732 City Parkway.

“My staff has been amazing,” she said. “This has really tested us because every day is different. But everyone has really rallied together to keep this going. There has been a lot of anxiety but a lot of camaraderie and good vibes.

“People have really come together.”

– With files from Tom Zytaruk



beau.simpson@surreynowleader.com

Like us on Facebook Follow us on Instagram and follow us on Twitter

CoronavirusSurrey

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

After 40 years on the job, White Rock’s fire chief retires

From flood to fire, Phil Lemire has been at the forefront whenever disaster struck

All Safe Surrey Coalition council members must ‘step up’ over ‘bad taste’ tweets, rivals say

Slate’s posts on social media in ‘bad taste,’ councillor says

First degree murder charge laid in South Surrey shooting death

Wayne Duncan, 46, was killed on Sept. 6, 2019

Surrey sports groups grapple with refunds, registration, restrictions and more

‘Our biggest problem is going to be retraining the public because they can’t be there’

Facing changes together: Your community, your journalists

The COVID-19 pandemic has changed the world in ways that would have… Continue reading

VIDEO: A Vancouver Island black bear takes weekend nap in eagle tree

Videos captured by Terry Eissfeldt shows the bear arriving Saturday night and sleeping in on Sunday

Parent, superintendent, trustee report smooth return to classrooms in B.C.

The biggest challenge is convincing families that it’s safe, some say

Two more COVID-19 cases reported by Langley long term care facility

One resident, one staffer have tested positive for the coronavirus

George Floyd asphyxiated by sustained pressure: family autopsy

Death sparked a wave of protests across the U.S. and abroad

Suspect sought in alleged assault, hate crime on Metro Vancouver bus: transit police

The woman then allegedly punched the teenager in the head multiple times

COVID-19: B.C. commercial landlords can’t evict if they decline rent assistance

Emergency order ‘incentive’ for federal program, Carole James says

B.C. Hockey League prepping for 2020-21

League reviewing different scenarios and start times in compliance with provincial regulations

Abbotsford International Airshow opening 50-year-old time capsule

Bronze time capsule was put together to commemorate AIA as Canada’s National Airshow

Most Read

l -->