Hi friends,

It feels like we have moved into a new normal for the Friday Night Community Meal Bag program.  However as we move forward into a stage of Phased Reopening while continuing with social distancing, there will be challenges, needs and modifications to continue to support those struggling with food insecurity.  Much is uncertain but we do know that the need for food, community and connection will always be there.  We are working alongside the Mayor’s COVID Taskforce as part of the Food Network to determine how we can best continue to support our friends. 

Our program continues to grow while agencies and organizations learn about those who do not have the food access needed.  We have the meal pick up Monday, Wednesday and Friday from 12-4:00 as well as close to 100 deliveries each day for those who are not able to access food from the church for various reasons. At the present time we are providing over 1300 meal bags each week.  We are thankful for our community partners including Open Doors, Next Door Social Space, North BurLINKton and local caterers and a chef who are preparing meals to help us keep up with the demand.  Burlington Food Bank has been very pivotal in providing us with food and financial resources as needed, Salvation Army shares food resources and we get a weekly delivery from Food For Life.  We couldn’t do all of this without the use of the Voortman’s 53 foot refrigerated truck which keeps our food cold. 

We presently have 40 volunteers who are calling over 240 families and individuals to provide telephone support, care and reassurance during this crisis.  Through these relationships we learn about folks who are struggling and help them to find resources to assist them.  This past week one of our Community Connections buddies shared that in one of her calls the woman talked about being very anxious and having troubles sleeping because she didn’t know where she was going to get food.  She had a vision telling her “Go to sleep; I’ve got this.”  When the woman woke the next morning, she got the call about the Meal Bag Program from the Friday Night Community.

We have received some COVID emergency funding as well as support from local churches, organizations and individuals which is allowing us to purchase weekly produce, meat and consumables. Please spread the word that we are still in great need of all food items including fruit, vegetables and meat, baby food and cereals, body lotion, shampoo, body wash, laundry soap, dish soap, cleaning products, paper towel, toilet paper, sanitary products and adult Depends.

We have many stories of celebration, God’s miracles and perfect timing in much that has happened. One of our delivery volunteers shared, “My favourite delivery is always to Martha. She is most gracious and appreciative. She also expressed her gratitude that we would do this for a Muslim woman. As I was making today’s delivery a friend of hers asked if I was a relative. She replied, “No, he is God’s helper. He is doing God’s work.”

Lastly I wanted to share this e-mail message that we received from one of the ladies that is accessing the Meal Bag program…

I just want to take a moment to say thank you once again for everything you are all doing. Your kindness and generosity have made an enormous difference to so many people’s lives. On behalf of my family and the families that I deliver to, words cannot express the gratitude we feel for your brave and selfless commitment to helping others in need.  My husband, Andrew, is one of the millions who lost their job due to Covid-19. I suffer with Osteoarthritis and Fibromyalgia so I can’t work anymore. Even with the Emergency Response Benefit, we are finding it difficult to keep up. Your emergency food program was truly a godsend for my family, and I know the other families that I pick up for have their own reasons to be just as grateful. You truly are doing God’s work! Thank you once again from the bottom of our hearts. 💖 I’ll look forward to seeing everyone next week.

I love how our community has come together to support friends in need of food support, hope and friendship at this time.  We do have fellow volunteers who are struggling with job and financial loss, physical and mental health challenges and who have lost family members or are presently COVID positive.  Please let us know if you would like to be added to the confidential prayer requests or would like a Caring and Connect volunteer to reach out to you.  In addition, if you haven’t already done so, check out our Friday Night Community facebook page to stay connected.  

With thanks and appreciation and a Happy Mother’s Day to all the women who have birthed, adopted and continue to love and care for friends in our community.  Lisa 💕