NEWS

Attainable Housing Roundtable

middle-header-news2

groceries

Photo by Maria Lin Kim on Unsplash

Hub Staff

Throughout the pandemic food banks in Saugeen Shores and surrounding area have adapted to maintain their crucial link to those in need in the community. Many pandemic protocols have created obstacles or resulted in a loss of key elements these food banks rely on, such as fundraisers and volunteers. On the upside, with the support from both federal and provincial governments, as well as corporate donations, food banks have so far managed to meet the demands.

During the holiday season many food banks depend on a surge of monetary and food donations to help sustain them throughout the year. It’s uncertain how COVID-19 will impact the level of aid these organizations have come to expect from the community.

SALVATION ARMY FOOD BANK

Major Connie Armstrong of the Salvation Army Food Bank in Port Elgin explained how assistance from the Food Bank of Canada, combined with the generosity from the local community, has allowed them to continue to satisfy the needs of their members.

“We’ve always had resources, because people in our community have been there for us,” reported Armstrong in a November 10 interview. “We’ve had tremendous financial donations to buy the food and we’ve also had people who literally went to the store, filled up their vans and brought it to us,” said Armstrong.

Armstrong noted an initial hesitancy in the early days of the pandemic, when people were nervous to leave home, but said now the numbers are back up as people are feeling more comfortable.

The Salvation Army Food Bank went through a period where their own volunteers were not allowed into the building and while that's not the case at the moment they are limited in the number of staff they have on at one time.

Armstrong fears a scaled down version of their traditional Christmas Kettle Campaign will impact their 2021 supply, as it provides their budget for the year but added that they will be offering contactless donations with a 'tap' option at select kettles and individuals will also be able to donate by credit card at the main office.

SAUGEEN FIRST NATION FOOD BANK

The Saugeen First Nation (SFN) Food Bank saw an increase in use over the previous year pre-COVID 19. With their food bank being relatively new, having launched in 2018, Food Bank Coordinator Melissa Snowden believes the members will continue to increase as awareness grows.

“I feel with the cost of living continuing to increase and minimum wage not, that the need for food banks will be ever present until communities begin rebuilding food sovereignty,” Snowden said.

Initially, the SFN Food Bank was purchasing the majority of their food due to a lack of donations but they are working to build partnerships within the community. “More awareness of our food bank will hopefully gain more access to those who want to donate to us,” said Snowden.

LIVING HOPE FOOD BASKET

The Living Hope Food Basket (LHFB) in Port Elgin's Maple Square Mall began in 2011 in collaboration with the Salvation Army Food Bank, opening their doors on the days when the Salvation Army was closed with a goal of ensuring access to emergency supplies every day of the week.

Tricia Verburg, Director and Pastor at the Living Hope Centre, said that they are not a full fledged food bank but individuals requiring their service can return as frequently as needed. The LHFB does not require an application or ID.

Verburg noted the same trend as other food banks with an initial drop in use in the early stages of the pandemic but said it has since returned and even surpassed their typical numbers. “We've seen new faces over the last couple of months and I'm sure we'll see more as time continues,” predicted Verburg in a recent email.

In the past, LHFB has hosted meals, but these have been suspended until further notice. “Unfortunately the biggest need that is met through the dinners is the social interaction,” reported Verburg, “and we're all in the same boat these days,” she admitted.

“People have been very generous this year and have actively looked for ways to support us,” stated Verburg. “Bruce Power has been wonderful providing support to food banks in Bruce County during COVID,” she added, also acknowledging several local groups who have organized food drives.

Verburg listed canned fruit, prepared canned soups/stews/chilli, Hamburger Helper and toiletries among the items that tend to run low. Another item often overlooked is can-openers. Unlike some food banks, Living Hope welcomes donations of fresh produce, dairy and small portions of meat. Additionally they will break up bulk goods such as laundry detergent, dish soap, bags of rice and oatmeal.

SAINT VINCENT DE PAUL SOCIETY FOOD BANK

Mairead Keely from the Saint Vincent de Paul Society (SVPS) Food Bank in Port Elgin explained how the need can stretch beyond food and hygiene products. The monetary collections from St Joseph’s Church in Port Elgin and St Patrick’s Church in Southampton help this non-denominational group assist individuals with food, rent, gas or even home furnishings, Keely said, and stressed that they aim to be a “stop-gap” to help individuals pass through a difficult time. Keely said that networking with other like-minded groups in the surrounding areas has allowed them to broaden their range of assistance and fulfill many requests of those in need.

In a recent interview, Keely expressed her gratitude to Bruce Power who supported each of the local food banks at the onset of the pandemic and explained that with the churches all closed, they were no longer receiving the regular monetary donations on which food banks rely.

Keely admitted that they did not see the rush they had expected in the beginning of the pandemic, reporting a 50% drop in usage, and attributed it to the increased government assistance, but said that numbers are now picking up again.

Keely predicts a surge in use in the new year if the pandemic persists and benefits from the government taper.

Keely reported calls picking up daily for the SVPS Food Bank's Christmas hampers, which families sign up for in advance. Hampers include money for people to purchase the dinner of their choosing and a gift for children, said Keely.

TARA FOOD BANK

At the beginning of 2020, the Tara Food Bank had already recognized a dramatic increase in use compared to previous years. “We’re running maybe oh, ten families a week and we used to only have two or three,” reported Mary Ruth Merriam from the Tara Food Bank in an interview earlier this year.

Merriam noted diapers, cereal and peanut butter as some of the higher demand items for donation but emphasized “whatever people wish to bring, we will accept."

PAISLEY & AREA FOOD BANK

Carol McCulloch from the Paisley and Area Food Bank said they witness a rise in demand during the fall and winter months when hydro and heating bills increase and further reported an overall climb in local needs each year. “If we gaged by Christmas, the Christmas program, every year it just goes up” said McCulloch in an interview earlier this year.

Anyone wishing to make a donation or to gain access to services and assistance can contact any of these food banks at the contact information below:

Tara Food Bank

Drop-off hours: 12pm - 3pm Wednesdays or call for pickup
Drop-off location: Anglican Church, 56 Bruce Road 17, Tara

Contact: 226-568-3092

Services: Tara and Allenford

Saint Vincent de Paul Society Food Bank

Drop-off hours: Call to arrange for drop-off
Drop-off location: St. Joseph’s Church, 920 Wellington St., Port Elgin

Contact: 519-832-2207

Services: Saugeen Shores

Living Hope Food Basket

Drop-off hours: Tuesdays & Thursdays 12pm - 3pm or call for an appointment
Drop-off location: Maple Square Mall, 515 Goderich St., Port Elgin

Contact: livinghope@bmts.com, 519-832-1330

Services: Saugeen Shores and surrounding areas

Salvation Army Food Bank

Drop-off hours: Tuesdays & Fridays 10am - 2pm, appt. recommended
Drop-off location: 614 Barnes Ave., Port Elgin

Contact: 519-389-3942

Services: Kincardine to Saugeen First Nation

Saugeen First Nation Food Bank

Drop-off hours: Call or email to arrange a time
Drop-off location: 37 Mason Dr. or the Saugeen Gas Bar

Contact: 519-378-3576 or foodbank@saugeen.org

Services: Saugeen First Nation

Paisley & Community Food Bank

Drop-off hours: Any weekday morning
Drop-off location: Immanuel Evangelical Missionary Church, 307 Balaklava St, Paisley

Contact: 519-353-5270

Services: Paisley, south to Cargill, north to Dobbinton, east to Chesley and down to Hanover