The Minden Food Bank has seen about a 20 per cent increase in demand since the beginning of COVID-19 and anticipates even more people will need their services into the summer and fall.

“We’re getting a lot more calls from people we’ve never had before, and are distressed that they have to call the food bank,” Marilynne Lesperance told The Highlander April 16.

Lesperance added they have also seen a corresponding bump in donations. CanoeFM, for example, recently gave them $8,000 from bingo proceeds to buy for all area food banks. She said the lake associations have been generous, as have other clubs and associations.

However, with government regulations affecting businesses, it isn’t always easy to source food, Lesperance said. She said they had been “scrounging” at the grocery stores they usually buy from but have had to source regional wholesalers as well.

The upstairs commercial kitchen area on Newcastle Street is filled with tables containing supplies for all of the area food banks, including the 4C’s in Haliburton, Central East Food Network in Highlands East, and smaller food banks in Coboconk and Kinmount.

Joanne Barnes is there, continuing to help fill the tables for eventual distribution.

“Overall, donations are coming in fast and furious,” she said. “We are a huge way ahead of where we were a year ago, like several thousand dollars ahead.”

Like Lesperance, she said, “It’s amazing. We have the money coming in. It’s just laying hands on product.”

She is concerned about what she believes will be a lack of seasonal jobs this year and the impact that will have on families.

“We are now looking at a regular base of 150, plus 300 new families,” Barnes predicted. She added they also have limited volunteers due to the pandemic. Some of their regulars are aged or have compromised immune systems. Plus, they have to practice social distancing as best they can while at the food bank.

“I’m weary. I’m putting in long hours. I do help unload trucks but it’s more the mental exhaustion,” Barnes said.

However, Barnes said she remains buoyed by the fact, “It’s amazing how this community always pulls together.”

Due to regulations, they have one client come to the door to give their family name and size. They bring the food outside, loose in shopping carts, for clients to bag themselves. The carts are then sanitized for reuse. The food bank is also delivering to those who do not have transportation or do not want to go out.

You can contact them at: 24 Newcastle St., Minden, 705-286-6838, mindencommunityfoodcentre@gmail.com

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