March 31, 2020
The Emergency Food Action Coalition (EFAC) is changing its name and broadening its mandate to develop a coordinated response to emerging issues related to the COVID-19 pandemic. The group will now be called the Windsor Essex COVID Care Coalition. The Coalition is looking for community-wide collaboration and financial support to ensure that service providers can maintain essential services for our most vulnerable residents.
Here is an update on the Coalition’s emergency action response:
- The results of a community survey for service providers launched last week include these top three priority needs: 1) volunteers, 2) financial supports, 3) personal protective equipment for staff and volunteers.
- To date, $29,409 has been raised through the COVID-19 Emergency Response fund at www.weareunited.com/COVID-19. This money will be used to support the Coalition’s planned activities. There have also been countless in-kind gifts including a large food donation from the Greater Essex County District School Board, and a large donation of hand sanitizer from Hiram Walker & Sons to support volunteers and service provider staff. The initiative is still in need of funds to support the activities below.
The Coalition is planning to hand out grocery gift cards and food hampers at five food bank hubs in Leamington, Essex, Belle River and two locations in Windsor. The hubs will be set up outside in a drive-thru or walk-thru model to maintain social distancing best practices. The first of these hubs is already operational at the Unemployed Help Centre. The Food Bank Association has also secured support from Feed Ontario to provide food hampers starting in about three weeks’ time. Grocery gift cards will also start to be released to people in need by the end of this week. Additional food hub locations will be announced as they become established.
A Windsor-Essex Food Helpline is being launched later this week. This Hotline is being supported in-kind by Green Shield Canada Call Centre staff, in collaboration with the Coalition. More details will be released later in the week on how people can access help.
A Volunteer Coordination effort is underway to help with food delivery, distributing grocery gift cards and supporting food banks and meal programs. Food banks remain open as a provincially-mandated essential service. For a list of open food banks in the region visit www.weareunited.com/GetHelp. United Way is leading volunteer coordination and training. To date, hundreds of volunteers has stepped forward through Coalition partners or as individuals.
The Health Unit has prepared training for volunteers working to support the emergency action response. This training module will help volunteers to stay safe and healthy while still supporting the community.
Development of a youth video chat program, operating weekdays from noon to 8 pm, which will support kids ages 13-18 who might be experiencing social isolation. It is developing programming to assist with homework and online group social interaction opportunities, conflict resolution and other at home coping strategies, healthy habits, and other peer-led activities. Multiple agencies have offered to support United Way to provide professional facilitation of these online activities.
A proposal was sent to the federal government, in coordination with local elected officials, asking for funds to support a short-term emergency response to food donation and volunteer shortages at food banks and other food programs, like Meals on Wheels. The funds would also potentially support an expanded local call-in mental health hotline delivered by Family Services Windsor-Essex and the Canadian Mental Health Association, volunteer coordination efforts, and the youth video chat program.
Calls to local mental health hotlines are expected to double so Family Services Windsor Essex and the Canadian Mental Health Association are collaborating for a 24-7 phone assessment and supports service. They can also assist by video-call as well.
Please visit the Facebook Group WE COVID Care Coalition if you need help or can offer help for this emergency response initiative. This group is open to service providers, organizations and residents. (https://www.facebook.com/groups/WECovidCareCoalition)
DONATE at www.weareunited.com/COVID-19
Coalition partners include Canadian Mental Health Association Windsor Essex County, Windsor-Essex Children's Aid Society, City of Windsor, Green Shield Canada, ProsperUs, Unemployed Help Centre, The Victorian Order of Nurses for Canada, Ontario Branch - Windsor-Essex Site, United Way/Centraide Windsor-Essex County, Windsor-Essex County Health Unit, South Essex Community Council, and Family Services Windsor Essex, Windsor-Essex Community Foundation, Windsor-Essex Food Bank Association members.
Media Contact: Karen Brady, Acting Vice President, Marketing & Communications, United Way/Centraide Windsor-Essex County | Windsor Essex COVID Care Coalition Member
email@example.com | W: 519-259-6192 | M : 519-564-8554
Visit the Windsor-Essex County Health Unit for the most up-to-date health information on COVID-19.