One of the greatest concerns for isolated seniors during this COVID-19 pandemic has been the need for groceries. There are many individuals who do not have any family or friends to help them get the basic necessities to fill their fridge.
That is where some extraordinary volunteers stepped in.
Councillor Mitchell Kujavsky, whose wife Jordana just recently gave birth to their third child, has been one of the leaders of this initiative with The Nellie Philanthropy Foundation, headed by noted community activist David Lisbona. They have been going to IGA at the Côte St. Luc Shopping Centre on a daily basis between 6:30 am to 8 am (prior to the store opening) and in the evening from 8 pm to 10 pm (after closing) to shop for local seniors. “We use the evening time to pack dry goods and non-perishables in preparation for the next morning's completion of the day's orders,” he said. “To be clear, this initiative is only for CSL seniors who do not have any help from family or friends in and around Montreal!”
ujavsky’s sister Pam and Melissa Margles have been coordinating the volunteers who were originally sent to them from Nellie Philanthropy (and the Kujavskys’ own outreach), as well as working with Peter Lipari, the owner of the CSL IGA.
Since IGA's online and phone ordering systems have been overwhelmed, the Kujavsky team and Nellie Philanthropy worked with the store to develop a system as follows:
- Seniors call the special grocery line at 514-532-1277 and are instructed to leave their name, phone number and address;
- Pam triages those messages to her "caller" volunteers;
- Volunteers call seniors back the same day (or following day depending on timing) to take their grocery orders;
- Every evening, orders are printed and delivered to IGA in preparation for the "packer" volunteers to shop;
- Every morning, orders are finalized and checked out, then organized by district to dispatch to the "delivery" volunteers;
- Once an order is delivered and they have amounts in hand, seniors are called by specific volunteers (¨Pam and Mitch primarily) to collect credit card information so that they may be charged back by the city since Côte Saint-Luc is now fronting the money for the groceries directly to IGA on a weekly basis.
For B'nai Brith House, Château B'nai Brith and Saint Patrick Square, the orders are collected directly by building management so the only steps required by the team are the packing/shopping and delivery steps. Cheques are collected by building management as well, payable to the City of Côte Saint-Luc.
“Peter Lipari has been an incredible partner in our initiative and should really be recognized for adapting to our needs and going out of his way to make sure our isolated seniors have been looked out for,” said Kujavsky.
So what do others do for groceries?
Click on grocery and food stores with delivery on the city’s COVID-19 web link here.
The Quartier Cavendish IGA has been opening and closing like a garage door in recent weeks. There was a legitimate concern from staff of catching COVID-19, especially when they saw snowbirds with dark tans at the cash register. In recent days they reopened. Some constituents advised me that the protocol is quite strict, but that in fact is gaining good marks.
Qualitifruits has a good system in place. You call in advance and make your order. Let them know of your arrival and they will bring the food to you. Delivery is also available. Next door at Nosherz, owner Robert Vineberg tells me he is even doing deliveries of bread products, prepared meals and other products on his own. At Caldwell Provisions call in your order (be prepared to press redial a lot) and they will deliver. Ditto for Fruiti Maruti.
The Depot, formerly the NDG Food Depot, also serves Côte Saint-Luc and we do have residents sadly who are unable to put food on their tables. This is where the Depot steps in. Our Library Services has been working as liaisons.
On their website they provide the following message:We have greatly expanded our Emergency Food Basket program while suspending other programming to allow people to stay home and respect social distancing protocols. Since March 20, 2020, we have been providing extra-large baskets of staples and fresh foods to families in financial difficulty across our territory. We have moved to a home delivery model, reaching 250-400 households weekly. Before this crisis, one in every three children in our community lived below the poverty line. With many more people facing economic precarity, we’re seeing hundreds of new registrations for our emergency services. To meet this increased demand we are using 3-4 times as much food as normal — in our first two weeks we have sourced, portioned and distributed over 23,000 lbs of food!
Federation CJA has stepped up as they always do with a community crisis response fund in support of the vulnerable. As of this writing they have raised $942,748 towards a goal of $1 million. This includes food vouchers and kosher meals, for families and individuals in need. They took care of Passover as well.
MADA Community Services has continued to supply its monthly food baskets. Pickups are generally arranged, but goods are delivered for those who are isolated or quarantined. The baskets include some basic necessities like diapers. “We will be starting cooking and delivering home cooked meals, several at a time,” says Stuart Miller, their head of finance. Contact Jessica at 514-342-4969 ext. 770