BARRHEAD - Barrhead and District Family and Community Services (FCSS) has suspended the vast majority of its programming and closed its doors to the public, and operate at the essential services level only due to concerns over COVID-19.
That is what executive director Shelly Dewsnap told the Barrhead Leader March 18.
“Barrhead and District FCSS has made the difficult decision to close our office to the public and only operate essential services until further notice,” Dewsnap said. “We will continue to answer phone calls and respond to e-mails, but most services are discontinued.
Services that have been suspended include seniors dinners (cancelled for March and April), seniors exercises and pie and coffee social time (cancelled for March and April) and Compass for Caregivers (postponed until further notice).
The Volunteer Income Tax Preparation program has been cancelled, but volunteers will complete tax returns already in the system and arrangements will be made to return them to clients.
Meals on Wheels, a program that provides senior citizens and or other people who may not be able to cook for themselves an opportunity to have a nutritious hot meal delivered to their door, is still going. Measures for safety and social distancing have been put in place for deliveries, however, no new clients are being accepted.
The Barrhead Food Bank will continue to serve clients but there is no direct access. Clients must first call FCSS at 780-674-3341 during their regular office hours (Monday to Friday 8:30 a.m. to 4:30 p.m.). Time and method for pick-up will then be arranged.
Currently, between 60 and 70 families regularly use the food bank.
In 2019, Barrhead’s Food Bank fed 1,827 individuals, 630 of which were children.
Dewsnap noted that although she expects the demand for the food bank services will increase as the crisis surrounding the COVID-19 pandemic continues, she said until further notice they are not accepting donations of food.
The best way people can help the food bank is financial. Donations to the food bank can be made out to the Barrhead and District FCSS, with a notation in the memo line noting that it is for the food bank.
She said that while it was a difficult decision to make, it was made to protect the health and safety of FCSS staff, volunteers, clients and the community. She noted the current situation is very fluid and may change in the future.
“We continue to monitor the situation and follow the recommendations provided by the province as well and Alberta Health Services,” Dewsnap said. “We recognize this is a time of uncertainty for everyone. We encourage family and caregivers to check-in with each other as having that connection is extremely important at times like this.”