For the last nine weeks since the quarantine began, the phone has been ringing off the hook at the West Island Mission.
In the last two months, the non-profit agency has been providing 260 food baskets, an increase of 60 whereas the WIM gets about 30 new members a year.
“We are seeing some people coming for help who have been affected by the coronavirus as they have lost their jobs as well as seniors living alone,” Suzanne Scarrow, Executive Director of WIM told The Suburban.
WIM is still vetting new clients and is thankful that West Islanders have been so generous in this increased time of need. “The community at large has come out like gangbusters to support,” Scarrow said.
The agency put out a top five request: juice, cereal, canned spaghetti sauce, pasta and tuna. People have responded by purchasing and donating those items and “not the sad cans in the back of your pantry that no one eats.”
Students have left flyers in their neighbourhoods to announce they would be going grocery shopping for those stuck at home as well as neighbours “holding food drives at the end of their driveways.”
Another thing Scarrow has noticed is that with people from all walks of life needing help, some who have never had to turn to a food bank before, “is that the stigmatism of needing help to eat has gone away.”
WIM has partnered with the West Island CIUSSS to help look after those who can be forgotten are people with intellectual challenges. “They often rely on caregivers and aides in normal circumstances, so how are they dealing in this pandemic?” Scarrow said. “We will be starting a program to deliver food at home.”
Last year, WIM started a garden project where area companies donated part of their green space to plant fresh vegetables for needy families. That project will continue this year and Scarrow asked home gardeners “to donate a row of produce from your garden this summer if you can.”
To donate to the West Island Mission, go online at www.moiwim.org.