Saskatoon Meals Financial institution briefly closed following COVID-19 publicity

The Saskatoon Food Bank and Learning Centre will shut its doors until at least Wednesday morning after three staff members contracted the novel coronavirus.

A staff member first tested positive just over a week ago.

Executive director Laurie O’Connor said staff in close contact with this person were asked to isolate and get tested. The Saskatchewan Health Authority (SHA) was contacted to make sure the safety measures in place were enough to prevent the spread of the virus.

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“We had a public health inspector come in and look at the safety measures we had in place and got a very positive report there,” O’Connor said.

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Despite the precautionary measures, two more staff tested positive for COVID-19 on Sunday. It’s not known if the two new cases are linked to the first one.

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The food bank hired a professional company to deep-clean the building while it’s closed over the next couple of days and will decide what to do next based on what SHA recommends.

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The food bank serves about 18,000 people in Saskatoon every month. While the pandemic has brought on a variety of challenges, usage hasn’t gone up and the demand is being met.

“The support from the community has been amazing. Since the beginning of the pandemic we have seen donors come and stand beside us and it’s really great to know we have the support,” O’Connor said.

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While closed, there are other agencies such as the Friendship Inn that are able to support people who normally use the food bank.

“We know that when our doors are closed, other agencies definitely have a strain and stress put on them. We’re working with our partners to try and ensure that we can have food baskets to other agencies so that if people are in dire need they can get the help they need,” O’Connor said.

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O’Connor hopes once new safety measures are in place, it will be business as usual for the food bank.

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