Donations to Local Food Banks Can Still Be Done Safely During COVID-19
Area residents who plan to donate to local food banks as part of their holiday gift-giving are encouraged to do so safely even during the pandemic.
The newly-released Hunger Report 2020 from Feed Ontario shows COVID-19 has led to a significant increase in foodbank use in Ontario. With the onset of COVID-19, Ontario food banks saw a 26% increase in first-time visitors between March and June 2020, according to the report. Demand continues to be high during the second wave of the pandemic. With food bank use on the rise in this area as well, the need for donations has never been greater and that makes it important to ensure all items are healthy and safe, according to the Haliburton, Kawartha, Pine Ridge District Health Unit.
“During COVID-19 and with the festive season on the horizon, donations to food banks are welcomed,” says Richard Ovcharovich, Manager of Health Protection with the HKPR District Health Unit. “By being informed and following guidelines, we can ensure donated food items are safe and do not pose a health risk.”
Area residents are encouraged to follow these guidelines when donating to local food banks:
- • Stay home if you are sick to prevent the spread of illness to others.
- • Call the food bank in advance to see what food items are in high demand or what will be taken. You can also ask about any special COVID-19 precautions that are in place for making donations.
- • When dropping off food items, wear a mask/face covering and keep 2 metres apart from others.
- • If uncertain about giving food items to a food bank during COVID-19, consider making a financial donation instead to help the organization.
- • Give food that is properly labelled. Unmarked foods may contain ingredients such as nuts that could pose an allergy risk to other people.
- • Donate canned items that are in good shape. If canned items are dented, bulging, rusted or damaged, they may allow illness-causing germs into the food which can produce a dangerous toxin like botulism.
- • Be aware of the expiry date on the food item and consider donating food that you would serve to your own family as well.
- • Ensure all packages or containers of food are properly sealed. Opened and partially-used foods cannot be distributed for food safety reasons.
- • ‘Fresh’ items like turkeys or vegetables have a short shelf life and have to be distributed in a short time period. In these cases, a financial donation or gift certificate may be more appropriate so that food bank staff and volunteers can buy these items for their clients.
- • Donate foods that encourage healthy eating. For example, consider donating items that are lower in fat, sugar or salt. In the case of grain products, consider donating whole grain products.
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