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Pandemic increases need at Trail volunteer-run food bank

COVID-19 transmission precautions enforced in Trail United Church food bank
Supplies are rationed to last each food bank patron one week.(Submitted photo)

The Trail United Church food bank volunteers have already seen a longer line up of people needing help from the pantry these past few weeks.

And with pandemic precautions forcing many businesses to, at best, curb operations and lay-off workers, these vital advocates for the vulnerable are expecting food bank resources to be stretched to the absolute limit in the coming months.

But these kind-hearted and dedicated community members are up for the challenge so everyone who needs help, feels welcome and no one goes hungry.

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For the past several weeks, patrons attending the downtown Trail food bank have numbered just shy of 100.

“People are coming and saying, ‘I’ve lost my job can I get some food,’” said organizer Marylynn Rakuson. “So we have definitely had an increase in need, and we envision that we will continue to have an increase in need because of a lot of the people that are getting laid-off like the store clerks and hair dressers, for example.”

First and foremost, however, the food bank put the needed safeguards in place to protect their volunteers and patrons from coronavirus transmission.

Because the food bank users generally arrive fairly early outside the Trail church three Tuesdays a month, volunteers started opening the doors at 9 a.m., therein preventing groups from gathering by implementing physical distancing precautions.

Patrons are guided in one at a time through an upstairs entrance, given a dollop of hand sanitizer, and led into a makeshift waiting room where chairs are set up and distanced apart.

They are then led downstairs with only two clients being served at a time and separated by at least six feet of physical distance.

“We have a really good system in place,” said Rakuson.

“We let one person in and give them food, vegetables, eggs and right now, we are cooking turkey so we give them gravy, cranberry sauce, buns and butter. If the person doesn’t have a stove they can take a turkey bun,” she shared.

“Our tables are spaced, and they go on through. We give them a coffee with cream and sugar to go, then a bag of sweets and out they go through the food bank door (not near the entrance door).”

As well, all touched surfaces are cleaned and promptly decontaminated.

The Trail United Church Food Bank is run by volunteers and solely on donations. (This community service does not quality for emergency funding or grants through Food Banks Canada)

“Our feeling is these are the vulnerable people in our communities and they also need help,” Rakuson said.

“So we are protecting our volunteers and we are protecting the people.”

The site operates the first, third and fourth Tuesday of each month.

To help the cause, call the church at 250.368.3225 Monday to Friday 9 a.m. to 1 p.m., or visit the church’s website,, and click on “Donate Now.”

The food bank waiting room has chairs distanced at least six feet apart. (Submitted photo)
Physical distancing is strictly adhered to in the Trail United Church food bank. (Submitted photo)
An automatic hand sanitizer dispenser delivers a dollop to each food bank patron as they enter the waiting area. (Submitted photo)

Sheri Regnier

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