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Sharing Place closing briefly so it's prepared 'for the long haul'

Food bank will not be open Monday as officials re-visit procedures and protocols; 'It’s to ensure we’re doing things the safest possible way,' said official

The Sharing Place Food Centre is temporarily shutting down so it can ensure its “vital” services are available to those in need for “the long haul.”

Amid concerns about the spread of COVID-19, officials at Orillia’s busiest food bank will not open Monday and it will not be business as usual at the 95 Dufferin St. facility that serves about 1,700 people a month.

“We are going to be putting new operational procedures in place at The Sharing Place,” said executive director Chris Peacock.

“This will require a few days of preparation. We are going to temporarily close and then re-open with a safe and smart way to manage our operations.”

Peacock told OrilliaMatters the new normal could see volunteers and clients undergo temperature checks, it could mean tents are erected on the property to prevent people from entering the facility and to cut down on interactions between people.

“We’re brainstorming how we could appropriately distribute food and create a safe environment for volunteers … and the people we serve,” said Peacock.

“We’ll be encouraging even more hand washing and be extra vigilant about sanitizing of all surfaces,” he added.

He hopes the well-used facility will not be closed for long.

“We can’t stop handing out food ... we can’t close,” stressed Peacock, noting ensuring vulnerable people have access to good food is vital.

“Being well-nourished is huge” in the battle against this virus, he said. 

“We believe that our services are essential during this period and our contingency procedures will allow for a safe approach to providing access to food for those who are food insecure," said Peacock. "As the situation develops, we will continue to ensure our procedures are appropriate.”

He said he “didn’t sense any panic” among volunteers Friday. “I think people see this for what it is - a level-headed, smart approach that makes sense.”

But it will increase the financial burden on the already strapped organization.

Peacock said the food bank is low on food and the need to purchase things, such as tents, will increase their costs.

He urges people who are able to make a financial donation to the centre - that would be much better than a food donation right now, he stressed.

Despite that, he said the extra precautions and the steps being taken are necessary.

“We might be closed a day or two, but it’s to ensure we’re doing things the safest possible way so that we can be open for the long haul,” said Peacock.

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