SUDBURY --  It's been a tough time for everyone during the COVID-19 crisis, including local food banks which are working overtime to meet the increase in demand.

The Sudbury Food Bank, which already serves about 8,000 clients, is anticipating that could increase as much as 50 per cent in the coming days and weeks.

"Things are a going as well as can be expected, as of late we've had very little closures of food banks and meal programs in the community," said Executive Director Dan XIlon. "We have made adjustments in terms of how those services are offered now so people are aware, a lot of food banks you simply go in, get the bag of food and show a piece of ID and away you go."

Due to health concerns and consultation with public health officials they've done away with the selection process.

And, Xilon admits it's changing every hour.

"What we've had to do is increase the amount of food to individuals that we're giving food to, as much as we can, because we have to take care of the kids and young people who no longer have breakfast programs and that type of stuff at school so we've had to put in a lot more of that type of product into a basket or a bin so kids have access."  

"We've got a lot more first-time users and we're expecting more first-time users , and we're taking the necessary steps to prepare for that, it's just a case of the numbers," XIlon explained. "There are wonderful plans from government bodies being put forward on how to handle this crisis, but none of them are happening tomorrow."

The Sudbury Food Bank is an umbrella organization that helps to collect food for 44 member agencies in times of need.

One of the groups which is also noticing the uptick is the Pregnancy Care Centre and Infant Food Bank.

"The needs are starting to build up, we're not able to get a lot formula. The stores aren't carrying much or anything like that and what we're doing to reduce risk is we're handing out 3-4 weeks of product at one time to our families so we're quickly depleting our stores," said Executive Director Dedee Flietstra. "So right now I know it's hard to get formula but later on we're going to have to re-stock and that's where monetary donations are great."

It's unchartered territory for everyone, which Flietstra says has made their job all the more difficult.

"It's scary because we don't know how long this is going to go on," she said. "So we're handing out proper amounts, what we think for right now but we might find out a month down the road that we've handed out too much like we just don't know."

Ward 9 councillor Deb McIntosh used to work at the food bank. She and a small group have decided to organize a food drive in hopes of making sure everyone has something to eat during this pandemic.

"Currently they're going through their food twice as fast as they normally would and there is concern with a number of people being laid off in the community there's going to be an increase even above that," she said.

 "So the food bank generally has a food drive in the spring, they can't have a regular food drive as they normally would, so we're asking for cash to be donated to the food bank and they distribute that cash directly into the 44 food banks and meal providers directly in the community."

McIntosh is asking anyone who is able to, to donate money either online or to mail a cheque over the next two weeks. If the provincial shut down lasts any longer, they plan to re-evaluate and potentially extend their campaign.

"If we all share what we have, like think about it, do you really need it, you know if you share right now, I think we're going to come out the other end of this a much stronger community and a better community. We need to make sure no one falls through the cracks."

For more information on how to donate, click here.

Donate – Banque d'aliments Sudbury Food Bank