SAINT JOHN, N.B. -- Food banks in the Maritimes are preparing for a higher demand and a dwindling volunteer base during the COVID-19 pandemic.

On Wednesday, the Saint John Community Food Basket was closed for the day as they change and reconfigure the way they normally operate.

Volunteers spent the day bagging groceries to be distributed when they reopen on Friday, instead of clients picking out what they want. They've also decided they won't be using the waiting room for the foreseeable future to help stop the spread of COVID-19.

"We're just going to allow one person in at a time, and we'll check them in, we'll give them their food, and they can leave," said John Buchanan, the executive director of the food bank.

The North End Food Bank says they're already seeing new faces.

"We were open yesterday, we had 109 people come through, which is about, we average somewhere between 90 to 130 a week, so that was within the normal range, however, we did have 12 new families," said North End Food Bank coordinator, Hazel Clarke.

COVID-19 is also causing concern among food bank volunteers.

"Most of them are over 70, so they're in a vulnerable group. So, some have not been able to come in, but we're fortunate that some still can," said Clarke.

"I've had about seven people today say 'look, I'm not going to come in for the duration,'" said Buchanan.

Local food banks are reminding the public that in a time with such need, food donations are most required.