By ALLISON PALMER
East Toronto seniors are being supported with grocery deliveries from Neighbourhood Link Support Services.
Senior Support Community Manager Joyce MacDonald who has worked with The Neighbourhood Group for just over 30 years, said they are providing a dedicated food bank for the local seniors.
“No one should have to go hungry, especially seniors,” MacDonald said.
The Neighbourhood Group has three organizations, Central Neighbourhood House, Neighbourhood Link Support Services and St. Stephens Community House. Their mission is to assist people at every stage of their lives by providing different types of programs, and services.
At NLSS, MacDonald said she manages a team leader, and 12 case managers who provide support to seniors. They provide services including transportation to medical appointments, advocacy for seniors, and housing.
Due to the COVID-19 pandemic, MacDonald said they have cancelled all of their programs, especially programs that would run in the day for adults.
“I converted that empty space into a food bank,” MacDonald said of the site at 11 Main St. where she would normally host adult lunch programs during the day. It has now turned into a food bank where the case managers shop weekly for their senior clients.
On Tuesday shopping, organizing, and the purchase of fresh produce takes place at NLSS. On Wednesday and Thursday, groceries are delivered directly to the clients’ home by their case managers.
“We’ve probably had $1,000 cash donated so far from the members of the community.” MacDonald said.
Currently, NLSS is being supported in this service by Community Centre 55. The program has also received cash donations from community members.
From early April, MacDonald said Community Centre 55 has helped them tremendously by donating to the food bank.
“I just want to throw kudos as much as I can to Centre 55 because they’ve just been so fabulous in helping us out,” MacDonald said.
Jade Maitland, the events and volunteer coordinator at Community Centre 55 has been actively helping NLSS.
Maitland said she has donated food, toiletries, and money to the efforts.
“Joyce and her team are amazing and go above and beyond to help the most vulnerable in the community, not just during the pandemic but all the time,” Maitland said.
TNG has reached out to different places for sponsorship because they want to continue doing this work for seniors in the up-coming months. Currently, NLSS is working with 75 different households and are only taking new clients by referrals.
Prior to the outbreak, MacDonald said they had never done a dedicated food bank but they have given out meals that were sponsored by MLSE’s meal program. She said some adult programs in the community showed there was a need for meals to be provided during the week, so this prompted them to start the dedicated food bank clients in need.
“My staff has just been phenomenal, they’ve done this without hesitation and they recognize the need and they’ve been there since all these closures,” MacDonald said.
For more information on Neighbourhood Link Support Services, please visit https://neighbourhoodlink.org/