Q. Essential Service – Is Winnipeg Harvest an essential service?
A. Yes, nothing is more important to our health and that of our province than ensuring everyone who needs emergency food support gets it. Without food, society breaks down. There is more stress, more anxiety and poorer mental health. It leads to crime, alcohol and drug dependency, violence and abuse, and more.
Conversely, ensuring that every Manitoban who needs food support has it, not only improves their overall health and wellness, but also minimizes the load on already stressed healthcare and justice systems and keeps Manitobans safer and stronger.
Winnipeg Harvest is the principal distributor of food to Manitobans in need. In a normal month, we provide food support to 70,000 people including 25,000 children via 300 food banks and agencies across the province. Since COVID-19 struck Manitoba, demand for food is rising and we expect to feed 90,000 people in April.
The Government of Manitoba also declared Winnipeg Harvest, along with our food banks and agencies, an essential service in April 2020.
Q. Food – How do I access food?
A. We are striving to ensure all Manitobans who need it have access to emergency, temporary food support. We are preparing emergency food hampers for distribution through our network of community foodbanks and partner organizations, more than 300 across Manitoba. For detailed information, please visit – https://winnipegharvest.org/need-help/need-food/
Q. Food – Does Harvest plan to deliver food to people in need?
A. Currently, we do not have any plans for home deliveries as this is the focus of other organizations in the community like Meals on Wheels. Our focus is on distributing food through our 300 community foodbanks and partner agencies across Manitoba – in Winnipeg, rural and Northern cities and towns. We suggest people who need to access emergency food support speak to a family member, friend or neighbour to arrange the pickup of their food hamper.
Q. Food – Can I donate baked goods or home-cooked food?
A. At Harvest, we are unable to distribute food that is cooked and without nutritional information on the package to our food bank network. However, soup kitchens and shelters do not have the same rules and they can take those products to share with their guests/clients.
Q. Food Banks – What if a community foodbank closes?
In Winnipeg, the City’s Emergency Operations Center has offered to help us secure alternate locations like a neighbourhood community centre. Rurally, we would be in contact with the municipality to help us do the same thing. Our goal is to provide locations as close as possible to the closed one to serve that community.
Q. Help – How can you help?
The best way to help is to make a cash donation of any size. This allows us to respond to needs today and as they change tomorrow. You can put tins in the bin every time grocery shop for your own family or become an Emergency Volunteer in our Winnipeg Warehouse. For details on these and other ways to help, please visit – https://winnipegharvest.org/covid-19/
Q. Government – How are government’s supporting Winnipeg Harvest?
Normally Winnipeg Harvest operates solely through private philanthropic donations from individuals, businesses, and foundations, but we all need to come together in this unprecedented time of great need.
We are very, pleased with the Prime Minister’s recent announcement to support Food Banks Canada. This is a great first step. With schools and business closed, lost jobs and wages, our demand is up today by 30% and we expect this to climb further as the crisis continues. On March 30, we also reached out to the Premier with a financial proposal to help keep operations open and food flowing in the months ahead.
Winnipeg Harvest is the most cost-effective way to distribute food to vulnerable Manitobans with more than 300 food banks and agencies across the province. We provide emergency, temporary food support to agencies like Main Street Project, Mount Carmel Clinic and Siloam Mission in Winnipeg and Samaritan House in Brandon, as well as to smaller meal and snack programs and soup kitchens.
The City of Winnipeg has also offered to help in two important ways. The City’s Emergency Operations is ensuring we have locations to distribute food if food banks close, as well as re-assigning staff to volunteer in our Winnipeg Warehouse helping us to sort food, pack hampers and deliver hampers to food banks.
Q. Volunteers – What do they do? How many do you need? Is it safe?
To meet current demand for food support, our staff and volunteers are producing pre-packaged hampers at a rate of 1,000 per day / 30,000 a month.
Due to physical distancing measures, we currently have two shifts a day of 25 people. This may increase as additional food sources and locations are secured.
All COVID-19 Emergency Volunteers must apply and be pre-screened prior to every shift. For more information, please visit – https://winnipegharvest.org/covid-19/emergency-volunteers/