According to June Muir, CEO of the Unemployment Assistance Center (UHC), food banks in Windsor-Essex are seeing growing demand for their services during the pandemic, many of which are first-time users.
She said many of the people who access the blackboards are students, families, and seniors who are unemployed and need support.
UHC reports that it now provides food aid to more than 1,600 adults and children each week.
People can pick up baskets made of non-perishable items and produce and provide food for a week. The baskets are available either from the UHC office via a conveyor belt system or from Adie Knox in the west of the city, which offers drive-through pick-up.
“I feel good that we can help them. I don’t have a good feeling that the demand is increasing,” said Muir.
“Everyone’s worried. We’re in a pandemic that doesn’t seem to be getting better, and that’s scary in itself because we want to get back to normal … People want to go back to work. We want to go back.” Normality. But I’m not sure when normal will come, “she said.
Muir calls it “trying times” for many laid off from work due to the pandemic, adding that not many people can work from home.
“We still have a lot of people in Windsor who are unemployed. They haven’t been called back. Our hospitality industry has been hit hard,” she said. “So many of these people are still not back at work. We have the casino that is still not working again.”
Eric Katzman, a personal injury attorney, is fortunate to be able to work from home during the pandemic and wants to help others who are not doing well. (Tahmina Aziz / CBC)
Windsor is one of the cities with the highest unemployment rates in Canada.
According to Statistics Canada, the city’s unemployment rate was 11.1 percent in December.
Boards see “generous” support from the community
Despite growing demand, Muir said the region was “very happy” to receive help from the community.
“We have a very caring church. And thanks to the donations we’ve received, we can keep up with demand. And it’s all thanks to the generosity of our church, ”she said.
Eric Katzman, a personal injury attorney, is one of many donors. He donated $ 10,000 to the organization.
He said he didn’t find it surprising that more people are now relying on blackboards.
“It’s not unexpected. I assumed people were struggling more than usual, ”he said, adding that he was fortunate enough to still be able to work during the pandemic unlike many others in Windsor-Essex.
UHC was granted access to the WFCU center last year to mass-assemble food baskets from resettled city workers and UHC food bank employees. (UHC / Facebook)
“Success or failure during the pandemic was a product of luck,” he said. “None of this has to do with willingness to work. It has all to do with happiness.”
So he decided to share his winnings, hoping that others who are able to do so will too.
“The need is now. The resources are needed now. The support is needed now,” he said, adding that donations can come in during the holiday season but could run dry in the coming weeks if people don’t help.