Cobourg Police Service Faces an Embarrassment of Riches

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by Robert Washburn

The kindness of residents in the town has left the police force in a bit of a bind when it comes to donations of food for homeless people using the 24-hour shelter at the station.

Inspector Jeff Shiels said the police are not in a position to safely accept homemade food for distribution to people who come in the front lobby looking for shelter.

Shiels said there are concerns about the proper preparations or refrigeration of the donated food. They are also worried about possible food allergies of the person receiving the donated food.

“We can’t confirm the cleanliness of the place where the food was prepared. And, there are very strict guidelines need to be met to guaranteed the safety of the food,” Shiels said. 

There is also the more severe consequence, especially if someone got food poisoning. “There are liability issues, and we don’t want to get in trouble,” he said. “We want to ensure people’s safety.”

But, the police are always happy to receive factory packaged products, like granola bars or sealed prepared food. Sheils said clothing, hygiene products or cash donations are always appreciated.

Resident can also help by donating to other local agencies, such as the Fare Share Food Bank and the Salvation Army.

“We also hand out food vouchers from the Sally Anne, Tim Hortons, and McDonald's,” he said.

The Cobourg police have the only 24-hour homeless shelter in Northumberland County. People can take temporary refuge and assistance inside the front lobby of the station in King Street.

Besides the shelter, there are facilities to bathe and charge a cell phone.