SIRCH Community Services is planning to produce 1,400 meals per month to help people during the COVID-19 crisis.

The organization announced it would up its usual production of 400 meals per month, which it distributes for free through food banks, Ontario Works and other County organizations.

Food Initiatives Coordinator Jay McIvor said SIRCH saw a need given the budgetary challenges people will be under and the layoffs happening.

“Sort of a no-brainer to just jump into the full swing of things, when people probably need it most,” he said. “We expect they will be needing more and more as these things progress.”

The frozen meals will be a range of “comfort food,” McIvor said. Some meals will be available for diabetics and other special diets, SIRCH said in a press release. The meals will also be available at its office for takeout at 2 Victoria St. Haliburton weekends from 11 a.m. to 2 p.m.

McIvor said SIRCH cooks are taking precautions to practice social distancing, keeping apart during meal production and wearing masks. The public will not be let into the building, instead receiving meals outside the front door.

To produce all the extra meals, McIvor said SIRCH is relying on added volunteer help.

“We’re hoping to utilize some of our staff that would otherwise be laid off or have less work,” he said. “I have volunteers that are regular, some of whom are still willing to come.”

SIRCH has had to make other adjustments due to the pandemic, including closing thrift warehouses in Haliburton and Bancroft and halting training programs such as Ready for Retail.

“I am very appreciative for the commitment and caring demonstrated by our staff and volunteers both in Haliburton County and Bancroft. I have appreciated all comments, suggestions and willingness to be flexible as we navigate these unknown waters. I also appreciate being in such a caring community,” executive director Gena Robertson said in a press release.

The organization has no base funding for the program and is asking for community donations, which can be made at sirch. on.ca/donate or by phoning 705-457-1742 with a credit card.

“Please help keep Haliburton County fed. In the end, we will be a stronger community if we band together and look after each other,” SIRCH said in a press release.

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