The uncertainty associated with the second wave of the pandemic is already having an impact on food banks in the district.

In Kenora, Sandra Poole at the Salvation Army is looking for ways to make up for lost opportunities.

"We've already had two of our four events cancelled," she said, saying they would collect about $100,000 worth of cash and toys, during the holiday season.

The cancellation of the Kinsmen parade and CP Holiday Train are already putting a dent in their plans, Poole noted. At the same time, she expects requests for assistance from their family services will go up.

They usually prepare about 200 food hampers at Christmas, but Poole expects more this year. 

"We're planning for 250, with a view to possibly being even more than that," she said.

Pastor Al Huckabay manages the Dryden Food Bank, and he says their client list is also getting longer.

"We're finding that because schools want a lot of kids to get tested, that means sometimes the whole household is put on isolation, so parents can't get out," he noted.

The food bank served 271 households in September, down 22 families from 293 in July. Huckabay added the changes in the CERB may also be causing some issues.

In Sioux Lookout, Susan Barclay is hoping their Out of the Cold program is looking for a bit of help from the school board.

"We've requested to be able to stay in the old Queen Elizabeth high school until at least June, so we can provide proper social distancing for people for their safety during COVID," she said.

Since they don't have access to a kitchen in the school, the shelter program is preparing food at another location, before transporting it to QEDHS. Ultimately, Barclay is hoping for a new permanent home, which could improve the way needs are met for those on the streets.

Last week, the federal government offered to help those on the street by filing their tax returns with information already on hand. This would allow a vulnerable population to receive benefits they're entitled to but don't always receive. However, Barclay noted she already prepares many of the tax returns, but passing along the benefits to a transient population may be difficult.

For more information:

Food Bank to launch home delivery service

Dryden Food Bank - Get involved

Dryden Food Bank - Get help

Sioux Lookout Out of the Cold (Facebook group)