St. James Town Storeys
St. James Town Storeys
Coping with COVID in St. James Town part 5

Episode 5

Coping with COVID in St. James Town part 5

In this episode, grassroots groups, community agencies, and volunteers in and near St. James Town respond to the needs of people facing challenges in shopping for groceries during the pandemic.

Interested in reading the transcript of the interview? Please click the web link “Transcript Episode 5” or download the pdf file using this link “Transcript Episode 5


Our guests today are Jennifer, a 5-year resident of St. James Town, and Nayanthi Wijesuriya, who is the intake lead for Health Access St. James Town and also a member of the operations team at Community Corner.

Community Corner has a network of partnerships with grassroots groups in St. James Town as well as with other service provider agencies and faith-based organizations. Their ties with the grassroots groups has helped them to identify people in need, and to delivery grocery boxes to those people in the 19 high-rise buildings of St. James Town, as well as residents of nearby rooming houses, also called multi-tenant homes.

Our guest Jennifer volunteers in her building with Community Resilience to Extreme Weather (CREW), which plays a vital role in this initiative by helping residents to organize for emergency preparedness. CREW has been working in St. James Town for about two years and has remained active during the pandemic period, helping residents to support their neighbours in this grocery delivery initiative.

In April, CREW volunteers in their building placed notices in all the residents’ mailboxes to let them know that grocery box donations were available. Forty boxes of groceries were delivered next day.

picture of an information flier for residents

Here we see the volunteers at work in the building where Jennifer lives

Picture of 4 volunteers delivering groceries
picture of a volunteer delivering donated groceries

Our guests talk about the organizations that have supported this initiative by supplying the donated groceries. One of those is Operation Ramzieh. Based in Ottawa, it has delivered thousands of boxes of food groceries to people in both Ottawa and Toronto during the pandemic, who face health or financial challenges in obtaining healthy food during this time. Operation Ramzieh was started by the Dream Mind Group, a corporate conglamterate based in the hospitality industry.

From the start, the grocery donation and delivery initiative also receives support from The Neighbourhood Organization (TNO). Listeners and viewers who wish to donate to the initiative can do so through TNO, making sure to earmark it for St. James Town Community Corner. 

Community Corner also partners in this initiative with Our Lady of Lourdes Church and The New Common of Trinity Life Church, which collaborate to provide food bank services now operating at The New Common, at 225 Wellesley. Since the food bank re-opened at that location, after being temporarily closed at its Bleecker street location due to inability to maintain distancing there, the grocery box delivery focuses on seniors, people with disabilities and people with other health-issues which make it difficult to leave their homes.

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