AMS Food Bank reopens after closing due to COVID-19

Students can access service through contactless pick-up

Patrons can access the Food Bank through an online form.
Journal File Photo

The AMS Food Bank reopened on June 22 to provide students with access to food resources through contactless pick-up.

While food banks have been considered an essential service by the provincial government and were permitted to remain open throughout the COVID-19 lockdown, the AMS Food Bank had initially suspended operations on March 20. It cited concerns about the ability of volunteers and patrons to practice physical distancing of two metres or more within the space.

“The AMS [has] been working on adapting the Food Bank services since May,” Max Moloney, Food Bank manager, told The Journal

Moloney added the Food Bank independently received approval to reopen from the Queen’s Campus Operations Group and the Senior Leadership Team after receiving feedback on its reopening guidelines from the University’s Environmental Health and Safety Department and Queen’s Risk and Safety Services.

READ MORE: COVID-19 increasing food insecurity among students & Kingston community

The issue of physical distancing has also been resolved in the Food Bank’s reopening guidelines, which include a weekly pick-up service outside of the JDUC. 

“Our new guidelines place patron, volunteer and staff health at the centre of our plans and we have accommodated our operations following physical distancing procedures for only one staff [and] volunteer to be in the space at a time,” Moloney wrote.

The new procedures require the space to be washed and sanitized each time the Food Bank is opened or used by staff or volunteers. A sanitization station will also be located at the entrance of the Food Bank for staff members to easily access hand sanitizer, gloves, and face masks prior to entering the space.

Only one staff member is needed to prepare food hampers and conduct contactless pick-up. 

Patrons can access the remote service through the Food Bank’s online form. Through the form, individuals have the option of selecting which food items they’d like in their hampers and what time they’d like to pick them up. The AMS is also conducting some deliveries as a trial for future options.

The individual food limits have been expanded to compensate for the reduced one-time visit per week, which happens every Monday evening.

“It was important that the AMS and Queen’s University reopen the Food Bank in a timely manner to provide for patrons in need during these challenging times,” Moloney wrote. 

Moloney explained that, while demand for AMS Food Bank service is reduced, many students still rely on the service during the summer months.

“[Fifty-two] per cent of AMS Food Bank users are graduate students, a majority of whom are international students as well,” he wrote. “These students have remained in Kingston throughout the pandemic.”

Following the temporary closure of its Food Bank in March, the AMS donated $7,000 to the Kingston Partners in Mission Food Bank out of recognition that many members of the Queen’s community continue to rely on these resources during the pandemic. 

 “One of the most important considerations in reopening [were] the barriers to access other Food Banks and related services in the Greater Kingston area,” Moloney wrote, adding the Kingston Partners in Mission Food Bank is not easily accessible from campus and has different guidelines to qualify for food than the AMS Food Bank.

READ MORE: Report finds food insecurity among female-identified graduate students, international students

Regarding the fall term, Moloney said the AMS Food Bank will continue to adapt its operations and procedures to physical distancing regulations put forth by the provincial government. 

“The priority of the AMS in reopening the AMS Food Bank is to safely provide accessible food to those who need it,” he wrote. 

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