Back in the spring when COVID-19 hit, we were fortunate that the weather was warm, and could simply move our New Toronto Street Food Bank outdoors.
Operating three days a week, we distributed prepackaged hampers of food along with bags of fresh produce to our ever growing number of clients. However, as the weather began to get colder, were tasked with figuring out how to serve people safely indoors using our shopping model.
It took a lot of planning, testing and tweaking but the New Toronto Food Bank team rose to each challenge, serving almost 500 families each week at the height of COVID-19.
As the demand for food continued to rise, it became essential for us to be able to control the flow of people to ensure that everyone could adhere to physical distancing measures. Link2Feed rolled out an appointment system model which allowed us to effectively serve our clients, while maintaining their safety, along with our staff and volunteers.
We also had to switch to serving our community five days a week, to ensure that everyone continued to have access to food, and using a survey provided to clients, we determined that a shopping model on four days and one prepackaged hamper pick up day would be the best way forward.
Like any change it has taken time to see the benefits. However, after three months of orienting our clients and volunteers to the new appointment system the benefits are palpable.
Most notably we have gone from a program that had regular lineups of 70-100 people to a program welcoming line ups of 5 to 10 people at a time. These changes have created a sense of calm and reduced a lot of the anxiety that comes with long wait lines.
As we’ve entered another lock down, Daily Bread is ahead of the game when it comes to safe practices around COVID-19. We were already limiting the number of clients in the shop to 6 people, everyone in the space must wear a mask, and clients must also sanitize their hands, get their temperature checked and go through COVID screening questions.
COVID has been a challenge but it’s also given us the opportunity to greatly improve our systems and processes in ways that will stick with us well after this pandemic is a memory.
If you would like to support Daily Bread Food Bank as we continue to respond to the impacts of COVID-19, click here.