COVID-19: First wave impacts on the Charitable Food Sector in Manitoba, Canada
Keywords:COVID, pandemic, charitable food, food security, food banks
The first wave of the COVID-19 pandemic led to significant socioeconomic changes in Canada due to business and school closures, and related job losses. This increased food insecurity among vulnerable populations, as well as many who had not been previously food insecure, placing unprecedented demand on charitable food organizations. This study documented the pandemic’s impact on charitable food organizations in Manitoba, Canada during the first wave in spring 2020. Using a multi-method design, data on pandemic-related program challenges and newly implemented policies/procedures were collected from: food bank organization websites and Facebook pages; online news media outlets; and semi-structured interviews with food organization leadership. Inductive thematic analysis was used to identify emerging patterns and themes. Second level coding was used to integrate data from different sources. Six challenge themes emerged: increased need for services; acquisition and distribution of food supply; staff and volunteer resource management; emotional vulnerability of staff, volunteers, and clients; difficulties with internal and external communications; and lack of structural supports. Five policy/procedure themes emerged: program and service delivery changes; finance and administrative changes; safety protocols; advocacy for resources and community engagement; and changes to paid and volunteer staffing. The first wave of COVID-19 had a significant impact on the Manitoba charitable food sector. Food banks re-configured programs to meet client needs amid shifting public health directives, with diminished resources, rising demand, and insufficient government support. Despite the resiliency of community food organizations during the pandemic, the status quo with respect to addressing food insecurity is inefficient and inadequate.
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Copyright (c) 2022 Joyce Slater, Natalie Riediger, Bhanu Pilli, Kelsey Mann, Hannah Derksen, Avery L. Penner, Chantal Perchotte
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