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Over 500 food boxes delivered to seniors in the S.D.& G.

As Cornwall and the surrounding area continue to adapt to social distancing, many seniors do not feel safe leaving their homes and as a result become isolated.

The United Way/ Centraide of Stormont, Dundas, and Glengarry along with members of the Regional Emergency Response Council were awarded funds through The New Horizons for Seniors Program to provide immediate essential services to seniors directly impacted by COVID-19.

With the newly attained funds, the S.D.& G. community took action. The Regional Emergency Response Council was established and co-led by the Social Development Council of SDG, Cornwall and Akwesasne and The United Way of SDG. A number of local agencies and non-profits including but not limited to Carefor, the Seaway Valley Community Health Centre, the City of Cornwall, the Optimist Club and 2-1-1, representing different groups of people and services within the community worked together to help bring food security to seniors within S. D. & G. The goal: prepare and deliver up to 1500 food hampers to people in need.

From May 14-15, over 500 food hampers were delivered by 70 staff and volunteers to Carefor clients, both in Cornwall and the surrounding counties. The Regional Emergency Response Council continued delivering food hampers in the days to follow.

Volunteers organizing Food Hampers for delivery.

Dianne Kuipers, the Manager of Community Support Services with Carefor led the charge of staff and volunteers stepping up to help ensure food security for many seniors who already access services through Carefor Eastern Counties. “It was all about serving our community and helping to counteract some of the food insecurities that have been prevalent during our pandemic.”

With the help of Edwin Duncan, owner operator of JED Express transport out of South Mountain and his son, Eric Duncan, MP of Stormont, Dundas and South Glengarry, the team loaded up a 53 ft. transport trailer with over 310 food hampers, and travelled from Cornwall to Lancaster, Alexandria, Finch, Ingleside, and Winchester. At each stop, volunteers were waiting to load their vehicles to deliver the food hampers directly to seniors and other eligible recipients within each township. “It was a rewarding day. This is a tough time for a lot of people including our seniors and it’s wonderful Carefor, the team and all the volunteers stepped up to make a difference,” says Eric.

Reflecting on the deliveries made within the counties, Dianne felt “It was a beautiful example of community. It was a beautiful example of neighbours helping neighbours, and that’s what these centres are about, and that’s what this initiative is about.” In a few days of planning the Regional Emergency Response Council’s team was able to procure food, package the food hampers, recruit volunteers, identify people in need of food and ultimately make the final deliveries.

On May 15, the team delivered the remaining 200 food hampers to Carefor clients within the Cornwall area.

With the hopes this initiative would carry-on, Dianne along with the team have since received a number referrals after the deliveries were made. “We expected that in the days to follow we’d be getting more referrals and more inquiries about the food boxes.”

“Nothing happens without a team. Carefor has an amazing team of people.”

Volunteers helping to make the initiative come to life included Carefor Supervisors, Team Leaders, staff and volunteers, the local MP, municipal leaders, and neighbours of the centres. Dianne shared “My heart is full. I can’t tell you how grateful I am for their generosity of time and in their engagement in this initiative. It means more to me and I’m sure more to many folks than we can ever express.”

If you are a senior and need help accessing food during this crisis, please call 2-1-1 to connect with available services including food hampers during the COVID-19 pandemic.

Interested in learning more about the services offered by Carefor Eastern Counties? Click here to learn more.

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