Monthly hamper program run by Heart of Seniors Gathering starts today

Seniors Advocacy Centre executive director John Fryters speaks at the annual seniors' gala on March 7, 2019. (Peter Lozinski/Daily Herald)

Hungry Prince Albert seniors who have no way to get to the grocery store have a new way to get food to their door.

The Heart of Seniors Gathering announced Monday that today marks the first day of a new monthly food program for isolated seniors in the downtown core. The project is being coordinator by pastors John and Hannelore Fryters.

Once per month, isolated seniors will receive healthy food hampers, with personal hygiene packages coming every two months. They’re being delivered with no contact delivery. About 35 seniors are set to receive the first delivery today.

The church will also be in regular phone contact with recipients to beak the social isolation many feel as they practice physical distancing to remain safe.

“The church received a federal grant several months ago to continue our social programming,” John Fryters said.

“Because of the (COVID-19) virus, we had to postpone everything that we had planned for the next couple of months. I was wondering what we could do.”

The federal government announced last Monday that grants could be used immediately for COVID-19 relief, including providing food hampers.

“We started regrouping and rethinking about the grant because we had already received the money,” Fryters said.

“This is what we came up with because many of the seniors we’re dealing with are isolated, and now they’re even more isolated because they had to put themselves in self-isolation for protection.”

Fryters said that for some, eating healthy was a challenge before the pandemic that’s become even more difficult now.

“That’s why we wanted to do a healthy food program.

 The hamper will contain fresh vegetables, including potatoes and carrots. The every-two-months- hygiene packages will contain things like hand soap, dishwashing soap and hand sanitizer.

The hampers have been timed to be delivered mid-month because benefit cheques come at the beginning of the month.

“Initially, we’re going to start with about 35 people. That sounds low, but we’re going to ask those 35 we’re targeting in the high rises in the downtown core to spread the word,” Fryters said.

“We’re doing it (Tuesday) for the first time. It’s going to be delivered and assembled by a group of about 14 volunteers.”

Fryters is hoping the project provides some relief. He doesn’t know how long the self-isolation is going to need to last.

“Who knows what’s going to happen?”