GRAND FALLS-WINDSOR, NL – March has historically been a lean month and while many enjoy access to healthy food they can afford, some in our community do not.
“I think people are in that giving spirit around Christmas, but we’ve heard from the food banks that they find this time of year, there’s some extra need,” Mayor Barry Manuel told the Advertiser March 9. “Obviously the food banks in town are always in need.”
For the third year running, the town of Grand Falls-Windsor is taking steps to feed the hungry with the Fill It Up With Food challenge, in which people are asked to drop off non-perishable food items at town hall, which will then be donated to the local community food bank and the Salvation Army.
The challenge kicked off March 12 and will run until the end of the month.
Manuel is encouraging town employees, along with businesses and other organizations, to get in on the giving this year. In particular, the various departments at town hall have been challenged to bring in specific sought-after items like peanut butter, cheese spread, and canned milk and fruit. The winning team will get a pizza or chicken party for their department.
Fill It Up With Food was started by Jack Kelly-Brinston as part of a project for his Scout group three years ago. Now he is joined in his efforts by his sister Gabrielle Kelly-Brinston.
“It took both of us to do it, because two pairs of hands are better than one,” Jack said. “We’re trying to get everyone to donate something.”
Gabrielle said she is proud to be involved in the program and excited to see the results this year.
“The grownups, they have things to do,” she said. “Kids don’t have so many things in their way, so they can do this.”
For Grand Falls-Windsor and Bishop’s Falls Community Food Bank chair Michelle Daye, it has been amazing to watch something that started with one child grow into an annual tradition.
“It helps put food on the shelves, but I think the biggest piece is awareness,” she said. “Once it’s on people’s radar, then they maybe think of it a bit more.”
Typically, the Christmas season brings out donations from churches, schools and businesses, but Daye said it can be difficult during the rest of the year when the giving spirit is less evident but the need is still great. Last Christmas, the food bank distributed 650 hampers in the area, but the demand for monthly hampers ranges from 175 to 280.
Manuel said the first year was impressive, but last year’s haul was astounding.
“We just had it piled up last year,” he said. “We had the blue barrel, but we filled that up pretty quick. We used the chairs, the furniture, the floor; it was a great scene.”
This year, Manuel hopes to surpass even that. Donations can be dropped off in the blue barrel at town hall.