Meals financial institution providers paused in Saskatoon as a result of COVID-19 outbreak

The Saskatchewan Health Department has declared an outbreak at the Saskatoon Food Bank & Learning Center after three employees tested positive for COVID-19.

The food basket emergency service will also be temporarily suspended on Monday.

Executive Director Laurie O’Connor said the food bank had decided to close its doors because a number of employees were isolating their homes. She said almost all of the employees have been tested since the first positive case.

“When we found out about the first positive case, we encouraged staff to get tested,” said O’Connor. “When we found out about the second positive case, we strongly encouraged the rest of the staff, including myself, to take a test.”

She said there were around 35 to 40 employees in the building every day.

The food bank said in a press release that it had taken immediate safety measures, including stepping up cleaning.

“We’re going to invite the health inspector again this week to go over and make sure we’re doing everything we can to keep people safe,” said O’Connor.

O’Connor says she’s hoping the blackboard can open on Tuesday, but she’s not sure. The food bank provides updates. (Don Somers / CBC)

This is the second time the Tafel has closed its doors due to a COVID-19 outbreak. When the board dealt with an outbreak in November, the grocery basket emergency program was closed for a week.

Prior to the November outbreak, O’Connor said staff wore cloth masks, but staff have been required to wear medical masks ever since.

Some of the cleaning protocols they put in place include wiping high-touch surfaces every 15 minutes, hourly safety reminders, and requiring everyone entering the building to wear a mask.

O’Connor said 100 to 150 people use the board every day, sometimes more.

“The community members who need this program are definitely affected and that would cause a lot of fear.”

She said she hoped the blackboard could open on Tuesday, but she wasn’t sure.

The board is in contact with the health authority and will provide updates.

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