Vahlleri Semeniuk, manager at Second Harvest food bank in Salmon Arm, stands next to a prepared bag of food ready to be picked up on Wednesday, March 18, 2020. (Cameron Thomson - Salmon Arm Observer)

Shuswap food bank gets innovative for self quarantining residents

Second Harvest sets up system to keep people fed

For Shuswap residents unable to leave their homes out of fear of spreading or catching COVID-19, help is available.

The Second Harvest food bank in Salmon Arm is working to provide free food to those self quarantining in the wake of the pandemic. By creating prepared bags of food, the food bank hopes to substantially reduce the number of people entering the building while serving as many people as possible.

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“We’re doing our very best to try and accommodate,” said Vahlleri Semeniuk, manager at Second Harvest. “A standard bag which will pretty much give you the basics of what you need to put food on your table.”

The bags can contain a variety of items including milk, eggs, bread, sweets, potatoes, onions and other vegetables.

Semeniuk said she has received many calls from people asking if the food bank is still operating and what the hours are. One such caller was from the North Okanagan-Shuswap Brain Injury Society, asking if the prepared bags could be delivered to the homes of some of its members.

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An arrangement was made where organization volunteers can come by Second Harvest and pick up bags for the people in need of them. A similar arrangement is also in the works for providing food bags to elders of the Secwepemc First Nations.

The food bank, which operates on Wednesdays between 4:30 and 6 p.m. and Fridays between 1:30 and 3 p.m., serves approximately 200 people each week. Previously five or more people at a time would be allowed in to select their food but in an effort to reduce exposure, the food bank is setting a limit of three people at a time.

“We’re hoping that will do two things: allow people to feel more comfortable about coming and not getting into a smaller space and also it will help us mitigate all the people trying to get through the doors in an hour and a half,” Semeniuk said.

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Semeniuk went on to say she doesn’t know how many people will be able to get through in the hour and a half window using the new model.

Lieutenant Joel Torrens with the Salvation Army said due to the pandemic the organization is trying to practice social distancing and is limiting access to the food bank building.

Rather than drop in, people are encouraged to call and set up an appointment to come and pick up a hamper. The Salvation Army can be reached at 250-832-9194.


@CameronJHT
Cameron.thomson@saobserver.net

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