Donors come through for region's food banks

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With the holiday season comes the annual push for Southwestern Ontario food banks to fill their shelves for those in need.

Fortunately, it appears that donors have continued to step up for the cause, according to those involved with the organizations.

Brenda LeClair, executive director for Chatham Outreach for Hunger, said Christmas tends to be a productive time to collect food, personal items and monetary contributions.

“People are coming in earlier this year with their donations,” she said, “which is wonderful, giving us the opportunity to utilize them.”

LeClair said it’s difficult to gauge the exact amount, or weight, that has been collected, adding she often simply goes by how full the warehouse seems and what needs to be sorted.

On Friday, there was a large food donation on hand from local emergency responders during their recent Stuff-a-Truck’ event. Last month’s CP Holiday Train event also provided a significant boost.


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“Christmas time is when we rely on our biggest support,” LeClair said, “because that gets us through until the spring.

“But I don’t think we’ve seen a Christmas like this. People are really reaching out and trying to do as much as they can.”

She doesn’t believe the generosity is due to any economic reason, but rather that more and more people are recognizing the need.

“Everybody is so grateful for what they have I think that they don’t mind sharing a little bit,” she said, “and when everybody shares a little bit, we all do well.”

LeClair added the working poor are increasingly users of the food bank, contrary to the “fallacy out there that they’re all lazy.”

About 40 new families a month are registering for food assistance in Chatham, with 35 being typical.

Many times they’ve never thought they’d need to use a food bank.

“You have your hours cut a couple of hours a week, that’s your bread and butter,” LeClair said. “By the time you pay your bills, there’s not a lot left for groceries.”

Jane Roy, the London Food Bank’s co-executive director, said people in the Forest City have also been “incredibly generous.”

However, more will be known next week after the donations from the annual Business Cares campaign – a massive citywide food drive – are collected.

“We have no idea how well it’s going to go, but from all that we’re hearing, we think it’s going to be great,” Roy said.

As for need, she said there has been an increase in part-time employees and seniors using the food bank.


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Krystal Thomson, manager of the Salvation Army’s family service department in Sarnia, said it has been a good season so far.

She added that co-operation with other local organizations has gone a long way in maximizing their contributions.

“We also have some partnerships with a few agencies that do an ongoing donation,” she said.

“We have a couple of local bakeries that donate to us bread for our food bank. Then we also have a partnership with Giant Tiger where they will donate to us. And also with our farmers’ market, so that we get some fresh produce.”

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