“Beyond the health hazard that the virus itself poses, it has also created an increased demand for emergency assistance among people who have suddenly lost their jobs and income,” says Lt-Colonel John P. Murray, spokesperson for The Salvation Army. “On top of fearing for their families’ health, these people are now struggling to put food on the table. That’s where we come in.”
Since the start of the pandemic, many of The Salvation Army’s more than 225 community and family services offices across Canada have seen an increase in families and children using its food banks. In many cases, supplies are running low.
While The Salvation Army continues to meet extraordinary challenges posed by the COVID19 pandemic, they are grateful to Prime Minister Justin Trudeau and the Government of Canada for $5 million in funding as part of the $100-million investment to help local organizations such as The Salvation Army, who are serving people in communities experiencing food insecurity.
“As more businesses are forced to close and people are impacted financially, the generosity of the Government of Canada will enable us to further provide our services, sustain communities and give hope to those who need it most,” says Lt-Colonel John.
As an organization that has people at the core of its mission, The Salvation Army has taken unprecedented measures—altered its programs and service delivery— to ensure that those who rely on them for food and basic necessities, shelter, and emotional and spiritual support, stay healthy and safe. Here are just a few examples:
• In Regina, many children attending school relied on the Army for a hot lunch. With schools closed, those meals are gone. Filling in the gap, and at the request of school principals, The Salvation Army expanded the program, and its community response unit now delivers lunch directly to those same children and families in need.
• Last year, the Army in Fredericton launched Operation Senior Food Box Delivery, a program to bring groceries to seniors and help combat their loneliness with a visit. Little did the organization know the program would quickly enlarge to help those impacted by COVID-19. When someone is in need, volunteers drop food boxes at doorsteps and curbs so everyone stays safe.
• With strict visitation protocols in place, The Salvation Army’s Ottawa Grace Manor long-term care home is bringing residents together with their families and loved ones through video conferencing. The video calls give a boost to those who feel isolated, and families are grateful for a way to keep connected.
“Everyone needs an Army—that’s us,” says Lt-Colonel John. “Last year, we helped 1.6 million Canadians with a helping hand. As the world continues to change, we expect those numbers to rise. Meanwhile, we remain on the front lines of critical service until that last person who needs us is helped.”
Guided by Mission
The Salvation Army began its work in Canada in 1882, serving the vulnerable. At work in more than 400 communities across the country, it has grown to become one of Canada’s largest non-governmental providers of social services. As they navigate these challenging times, The Salvation Army is guided by their mission, values and evidencebased information published by local health authorities and the Public Health Agency of Canada.