June 30, 2020
For an organization built on face-to-face interactions, the COVID-19 pandemic has been particularly challenging for Calgary’s Meals on Wheels, which helps provide meals for those struggling due to age, permanent physical barriers, financial strains or temporary health issues.
“COVID has challenged every single procedure we have,” according to Stephanie Ralph, philanthropy and communication manager of Meals on Wheels. “We saw a 30% increase in demand, and we felt that was really, really important to ensure that our clients would still have food regardless of the situation. We had to start making contactless deliveries and hired a second shift for the first time in our history.”
The shifts are completely separate within the organization and allows half the staff to be somewhat protected in the event of illness. The added shift allows Meals on Wheels to not only keep up with the increased daily demand for meal deliveries, but also to build a good inventory of frozen meals. The frozen meals are part of the organization’s My Choice Menu program which lets clients purchase bulk frozen meals, which can also adhere to a variety of dietary restrictions.
To help meet the new and evolving needs of many community organizations and supports, Calgary Co-op is working with these groups and agencies to get them additional help during this uncertain time through a new charitable initiative called Calgary Co-op Cares. This charitable giving program was launched in April. The initiative sees Co-op matching online customer donations up to $25,000 and the money will go to six local charities: the Calgary Women’s Emergency Shelter, Seniors’ Resource Society, Calgary Food Bank, Brown Bagging for Calgary’s Kids, Meals on Wheels and The Mustard Seed.
But the pandemic and social distancing rules meant changes had to be made, all while fulfilling more orders.
“We know there’s been increased demands on these crucial community supports and we want to do what we can to help so these organizations can focus on meeting the needs of their clients,” says Sage Pullen-McIntosh, Communications Director, Member and Public Relations at Calgary Co-op. “We’re joining with our customers to support these organizations during this pandemic and into the future.”
“Some people may just need a bit of a bridge to get them until they start to receive funding from the government, or until they’re able to go back to their old jobs,” Ralph says. “But I do think we will see people in need in Calgary for some time. We’re so thankful for the support from Calgary Co-op and grateful for the response from the community.
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