CANMORE – While national sports leagues and even Disneyland shut their doors amid coronavirus fears, a favourite Canmore volunteer supper is taking its own precautions.
Food and Friends, which runs out of St. Michael's Anglican Church located on Seventh Street in Canmore, has opted to move its usual dine-in community experience on Monday nights to takeout meals.
“[We’re doing it out of] an abundance of caution and respect for those who might be especially vulnerable to infection,” said Sean Krausert, a church representative.
“With the COVID-19 risk increasing, we decided it would be best to decrease the social element of Food and Friends, so instead we’ll be offering takeout services.”
Krausert said Food and Friends will still operate during its regular hours between 5-7 p.m., but those who attend would instead take the food home.
“They’ll arrive, use hand sanitizer, get their takeout in their takeout cartons we will provide, then they’ll be able to leave and that way we reduce the person-to-person contact,” he said.
For the team at St. Michael’s, who make Food and Friends happen, taking precautions where possible seem like a simple way to help.
“I think that what we need to do is contribute to what they’re calling ‘changing the curve of the infection rate,’ and try to slow down infection that would hit the community,” said Krausert.
“[This will] therefore alleviate undue stress on the health system. I see this as Food and Friends doing its part, while also hopefully protecting the most vulnerable of our population because we have every age group and every different lifestyle represented at Food and Friends.”
While volunteers for Food and Friends like Carol Picard are sad to see the social aspect cancelled, the decision to move to takeout was the right thing to do.
“We’ve got the advantage of seeing how other countries in the world are impacted, what the best advice through the world is about self isolation and social containment … We had no question this was the right thing to do given [the Food and Friends] demographics,” said Picard, adding that all ages come through the door, including those who work in the hospitality industry and seniors.
“We also have quite a significant food insecurity issue to deal with, so this is our best solution without just shutting down.”
The announcement comes after the Province of Alberta confirmed four new cases of coronavirus Thursday afternoon (March 12), including a two-year-old from Calgary.
“The child who has tested positive for COVID-19 returned with their family from a vacation in Florida and developed mild symptoms once in Alberta,” a press release from the province stated.
“The child attended a local daycare from March 2-6 and tested positive on March 11. The child is expected to make a full recovery. As soon as the case tested positive, health officials took immediate action to protect the health of Albertans. On the advice of Alberta Health Services, the daycare has temporarily closed to limit exposure to the virus. All close contacts are self-isolating for 14 days while being monitored by health officials.”
In addition, both the NBA and the NHL are among some of the sports organizations suspending games as COVID-19 cases increase across Canada and the U.S. The cross-country world cup scheduled for the Canmore Nordic Centre March 19-22 has also been cancelled.
Justin Trudeau, the Prime Minister of Canada, and his wife, Sophie, are both in self-quarantine while waiting for coronavirus test results after Sophie began exhibiting mild flu-like symptoms.
The current number of cases in Alberta is now at 23, all travel-related. One patient continues to recover in hospital, while all others are in isolation at home.
The province has asked that no one travel outside the province and that all large gathers are cancelled.
“Effective immediately, the Alberta government is asking all large gatherings or international events in the province to be cancelled and advising Albertans against travel outside of the country," stated the province.
In Canmore, the community remains strong amid coronavirus fears.
“The social piece of this whole thing [Food and Friends] is so important to so many people, but this too shall pass,” said Picard.
“We’ll try to keep our community as strong as we can while we get through this.”
Picard also said the takeout option was made possible because of Banff Food Rescue, run by Alanna Pettigrew, who donated the takeout containers that will be used until further notice.