Head of West Island food bank says Legault's call for volunteers not such a great idea

On Rock

The head of one West Island food bank says Premier François Legault's call for more volunteers to help charities get through the COVID-19 crisis is well-meaning, but in the end, it's not such a great idea.

At his daily media briefing Thursday, Premier François Legault called on Quebecers to volunteer with food banks and other aid groups whose resources have been stretched in recent weeks. His government also announced a web site that would pair would-be volunteers off with any one of 1,500 community groups across Quebec.

But Kim Reid, the president and founder of On Rock Community Services, says he isn't willing to run the risk of bringing in people who might not practice the kinds of social distancing measures that his own volunteers do.

"We have our own volunteers that are there all the time, they understand our protocols, and the seriousness of us dealing with the public, and especially the poor." Reid says. "Our service can't be interrupted, otherwise 220 families, plus all the emergency families we deal with now...we would have to close if we had an infection."

Reid says ordinarily, he wouldn't turn down volunteers, but now with the COVID-19 pandemic on, he's even turning down friends who've called him to offer their services.

"It's a pandemic. People don't even know if they have it, two weeks, or three weeks afterwards. So we just can't risk that," he says. "The families that depend on us, really depend on us."

For now, On Rock is able to meet the growing demand for its services, in part because of some food donations from restaurants that have been forced to shutter their doors for the next three weeks. But after a couple more weeks of this situation, they might find themselves in a different position.

"Our boxes in a couple of weeks could become pretty thin," he said, "and right now, they're amazing, because we've got all this fresh produce from the restaurants."

Reid points out they're always looking for food donations, and cash donations.

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