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Canadian nonprofits hit hard with shortages amid COVID-19 pandemic

Last Updated Mar 25, 2020 at 10:31 am EDT

Marco Verch/Flickr

As problems surrounding COVID-19 continue to grow, food banks and non-profits in Canada are being faced with a surge of food and funding shortages.

Social services like food banks, charities, and other non-profits, are having to juggle an increase of people using their services while seeing a drop in public donations.

That’s on top of the restructuring and reduction that many nonprofits are having to do because of the complications being brought on by the novel coronavirus.

It’s these issues that are pushing many nonprofits to start to lean more so on the public for financial assistance.

One of these services asking for assistance is Yonge Street Mission (YSM). The nonprofit has been serving the city of Toronto since 1896 and offers help to those in need through their food banks, mental health services and those dealing with poverty.

The president of Yonge Street Mission, Angie Peters said the ongoing pandemic has led the nonprofit to take extra steps to continue to stay open.

“We’ve closed some of our buildings all together. We’ve sent some non-essential staff home, and we’ve really refocused how we deliver services so that people aren’t actually coming into the buildings and gathering,” Peters said.

She said the nonprofit has had to prepare emergency provisions in case there is a rise in the number of people that need support. Peters also notes that the social service has also has had to think of ways to increase the amount of food that can be given out if the demand at their food bank continue to rise.

“We are planning to deliver 1325 meals or grocery bags a week in total,” she said. “…On the 19th, which was the first day of our active service model, we delivered 307 meals and grocery bags. Our total capacity planning for a day is actually 350.”

Peters said that currently the number of financial donations made to Yonge Street Mission haven’t decreased but rather it’s a combination of less people giving food and a reduction of supply from their partner charity, Daily Bread.

“This is leading us to need to purchase more food as we have less food donations. At this point in time, we estimate that this will lead to increased food costs of $8,000 – $10,000 per week. This will likely increase as the need increases,” Peters said.

Yonge Street Mission is asking the public to donate online through their site to help the nonprofit continue to offer the services to those that need it and meet the rising challenges that is being placed on it and other food banks in Canada.

However, the problems brought on the COVID-19 pandemic isn’t just limited to Yonge Street Mission. Several nonprofits and food banks in Canada have reported a larger intake of users in the last few days.

After facing funding shortages and increasing numbers, Food Banks Canada announced on Monday their plan to raise $150-million to meet increasing demand.

Rogers, the parent company of 680 News, is also announcing to donate one-million meals to help the cause. On top of that, the company said on Monday that it will be utilizing its TV, radio and digital platforms in an awareness campaign to help Food Banks Canada reach its goal.

It’s these shortages that led the Ontario government to announce on Monday their plan to give social services in the province $200-million.

Premier Doug Ford announcing that Ontario will be providing cities with funds to help food banks, shelters, emergency services, charities and nonprofits cope with the ongoing pandemic.

“Organizations across the province are doing critical work right now to help vulnerable Ontarians and these funds will allow them to directly help those who need it most,” Ford said.

Peters said proposed funds is a good sign that the government is willing to support frontline agencies that provide a service for those most in need.

“We are definitely that last line of defence for people and and we provide the services for basic needs that keeps people going during at time like this. So we’re very grateful for that announcement,” she said.

Those that want to donate to Yonge Street Mission can give online via the YSM donate webpage. Donations can help nonprofits like YSM continue to give help to the growing number of people that depend on their services.

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