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Food bank numbers on the rise

With the passing of Thanksgiving and the emergence of the festive Christmas season many people take stock of the passing year and with luck they will consider themselves to be fortunate and content in their circumstances. 

Captain Denise Saunders in front of the shelves of the Bayview Food Bank.  Although the shelves may look full, she explains that they are quickly emptied when providing for the needs of 25-30 families on a monthly basis. 

This, however, is not the case for everyone as there are those who still find it a struggle to meet the needs for themselves and their families.

Captain Dwayne Ledrew of the New World Island Food Bank sees the effects first hand.

“We look after 60 to 70 families a month,” he said. “Last year we were looking after only 40 to 50. It is being reported that all over the province there are people having a hard time getting by on a day-to-day basis.”

“Not only has the economy softened but consumers are also being stretched by rising prices at the grocery stores.  It is getting harder. The community is also feeling additional stress after the fire at the Breakwater Plant.”

Captains Ray and Denise Saunders run the Salvation Army's Bayview Food Bank, she is seeing similar increases in food bank utilization. 

“We have about 55 families on the list and we are looking after about 25 to 30 families each month,” she said. “Each month though we are getting an additional one or two families that we haven't seen before.”

She explains that the food bank works in concert with the Canadian Foodsharing Association.  The Association tries to fulfill the requirements of the food bank, but when there are shortages the food bank will go out and purchase essentials to fill in the gaps. 

“In the fall, before the food drives at Thanksgiving, things can be scarce and the shelves are barer,” she said. “After the food drives more items become available” 

The food bank supports families and individuals with dry and canned goods.

“It is hard for us to keep produce because we are limited in space,” she said. “We have a refrigerator and freezer but one of our biggest issues is storage. We are looking to see how we can grow, but we also do not want to bite off more than we can chew.” 

They are considering an attached shed for more shelf space and other projects to enhance the food bank.

Not only do they provide a box of food items of sugar, tea, canned fruits and vegetables, pasta, jams, jellies, legumes, sauces and canned meats for families to prepare meals, the food bank can sometimes also provide other items of daily usage such as detergent, toilet paper and other hygienic items. 

These items are separate from the monthly dispensing of food items but can be equally welcome to someone who is having difficulty making ends meet.  Clients can also specify specific needs to the volunteers and the food bank will try to meet the requirement if they can. 

It needs to be noted that even though the food bank is run by the volunteers of the Salvation Army its' services are open to all denominations within the community. 

Saunders added, “Even though we are only open once a month, we can also respond to emergencies. If someone comes to us and says that they are desperate we will review the situation and try to respond in the best way that we can.”

The food bank is open all year to receive charitable donations be it cash or non-perishable goods.  Donations from the annual Christmas Kettle Campaign are also used to augment the shelves.  Anyone with extra food in the pantry or some spare change in your wallet to help a neighbor in need you can contact your local Salvation Army to donate to the local food banks.

Jim Hildebrand is a Pilot Islands’ correspondent who writes from Durrell.


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