By Mark Weber
It’s been a busy season at the Rimbey Food Bank, with the demand for services currently seeing an increase, staff say.
“Things are going smoothly, and we have been getting lots of donations which is wonderful,” said Jamie Coston, volunteer programs coordinator with Rimbey Family Community Support Services.
“We’ve also got these new coupons which are called COVID coupons, and we actually give everybody these $25 coupons to use at the Co-op to buy food items. This way, they can purchase some things of their own that they like which is really, really nice because food security doesn’t have to mean that you don’t get to choose your own things,” she explained.
“It’s empowering to be able to choose your own items, too. So we started that, and everybody really loves that program,” she said, adding that a grant helped to make it a possibility as well.
The Food Bank is operated out of the basement of the Rimbey Church of the Nazarene on Wednesdays.
In other news, staff have been extra busy of late with it being Seniors’ Week recently.
Through the FCSS, wellness kits were prepared and delivered to local seniors. “They are ‘We are thinking of you’ bags from FCSS. So we went out and delivered them to seniors in the community,” she said.
Particularly touching was to see folks who have been so restricted in terms of visitation.
“We couldn’t go in, so they were standing at the window waving and blowing kisses,” she said, adding that the kits included various things like Lypsol, birdhouses to paint, plants, activity books, crossword puzzles, books, and pamphlets with information about accessing a range of helpful services in town.
Altogether, 146 wellness kits were handed out.
“Each bag also had a letter, picture or card from an FCSS staff member or Mrs. Hull-Beagle’s Grade four class from Rimbey Elementary,” said Coston. “We went to our three facilities and drove around town waving, and wishing everyone we saw a Happy Seniors Week. We are also hoping to have our Rimshaw ready to go for rides once we have ensured it is COVID safe.”
Call the office at 403-843-2030 and ask for Jamie to book a ride or to volunteer to pilot the Rimshaw.
“We also have volunteers that are calling seniors who are isolated and visiting with them. We phone everyone on our client database to check in on them and say, ‘Hey, how are you? Your supports are in place. Do you need someone to call you?’
“And if they are lonely, we have someone call them once a week for a visit,” she said. “So these wellness kits are also a way for us to say we are here and we are thinking about them,” she said, adding that one of the classes in the local elementary school also made cards to deliver to the seniors as well. “They wrote letters and cards so everyone got a letter, card or a picture,” she said. “They are missing that (sense) of connection.”
As to the pick-up routines at the food bank, staff and volunteers continue to work hard to keep everyone safe in the midst of the pandemic.
Coston said staff also take donations at the FCSS office – just inside the door so that people don’t have to come in to help with maintaining social distancing.
Donations can be placed just in the doorway with the name of who is providing it, and the Food Bank does give taxable receipts.
Also, volunteer help at the Rimbey Food Bank has been spread out through the week so that not everyone is in the same room altogether on the same day.
Currently, hampers are handed out on Wednesdays. And folks who pick up hampers are also assigned times to drop by for pick-up.
Coston does the in-takes on Tuesdays and then on Wednesdays the hampers are, as mentioned, picked up.
Those picking up food have to show ID through a window, and when it’s okay, the volunteers put the food out on a table and give them the thumbs-up.
Coston said demand hadn’t risen sharply over the last few months until this past week, and that could be due to changes in the provision of some federal emergency funding.
So donations of both food and cash are certainly always welcome.
For more information about the Rimbey Food Bank, or how to help out, call 403-843-2030 ext. 2.