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Volunteers essential to Orléans-Cumberland food bank

June 12, 2020

STAR STAFF – Diane Lacombe is one of 25 volunteers who was been working at the Orléans-Cumberland Community Resource Centre food bank during the COVID-19 pandemic.

When the pandemic reached Ottawa, the OCCRC food bank – like others across the city – had to change the way it does business. Instead of letting people come into the food bank and pick items from the shelves themselves, they have to make an appointment while two teams of volunteers working on alternating days put the food supplies together based on the size of the family. The individual then has to come to the resource centre to pick up their food in what is a contactless process.

Diane Lacombe stands outside the Orléans-Cumberland Community Resource Centre where she is a volunteer at the food bank. STAFF PHOTO

The two teams of volunteers were set up to prevent a potential outbreak from infecting the entire group. As it is, by taking the proper precautions, including the wearing of facemasks, social distan-cing and frequent hand-washing, none of the volunteers have caught the virus.

Diane has been a volunteer at the food bank since 2013. When the pandemic hit, she was in Florida with her husband. They returned home immediately and after they spent 14 days in self-quarantine at home, Diane called food bank coordinator Nicole Perras to offer her services.

Any concerns she had about returning to the food bank were eased when she found out the measures that were put in place to protect the volunteers like herself and the clients.

“(Nicole) explained to me how it worked and I was okay with that,” says Diane.

The first couple of weeks she was worried about bringing something home to her husband, so she changed out of her clothes as soon as she got home and took a shower before seeing him, but any anxiety she felt in those initial weeks was eventually put at ease when she realized the lengths they went through to keep everyone safe.

“I feel totally comfortable working here now, and I’m happy to be able to help” says Diane who is aware of the important job she and the other volunteers are doing in providing emergency food supplies for area residents in financial distress.

According to OCCRC executive direc-tor Luc Ouellette, without the volunteers like Diane the food bank couldn’t function.

“Our volunteers are indispensable to the operations of our food bank,” says Ouellette. “Without them, we would not be able to continue serving our community.”

(This story was made possible thanks to the generous support of our local business partners.)




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