Need for food bank on the rise

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St. Luke’s Community Food Bank has worked diligently to humanize the experience of helping people who rely on the food bank.

“Our food bank looks a lot different from other food banks,” said St. Luke’s Anglican Church deacon Rev. Lorna May. “We’re able to do that. I’m privileged, as the person who runs the food bank, that I have so many wonderful volunteers.”

The team works with local businesses to collect donations that are packaged up and delivered to families in need.

The food bank operates seven days per week and aims to remove barriers to helping those in need.

“One of the big problems is transportation,” said May. “How do you get to the food bank if you live in Dunedin and you don’t have a car?”

May says they deliver in and around Creemore but also to Stayner, and to a person in Wasaga Beach who is living in their car.

“We’ve had two families that have really needed the food bank in the last year and have been able to get themselves out of their predicament and now they don’t need us. What a wonderful story that is,” said May.

She said there is still a lot of stigma and judgement around food bank usage but food insecurity is a growing problem.

Food Banks Canada reports there were almost two million visits to food banks across Canada in March, a 32 per cent increase from the previous year, and a 78.5 per cent increase from March 2019, which is the highest year-over-year increase in usage ever reported.

St. Luke’s Community Food Bank launched in the spring of 2022, serving six families. Today, it serves 37 families, including 60 adults and 66 children. They are seniors, single- parent families, supported by the Ontario Disability Support Program (ODSP), and single income households.

In the past year volunteers put in 2,300 hours and served just under 15,000 meals. They also help recipients with budgeting and food planning.

A report released by Ontario Living Wage Network last week set the living wage for the region of Grey Bruce Perth Huron Simcoe at $22.75, up 9.9 per cent from 2022. Meanwhile the cost of food increased by over 10 per cent in 2022, and is estimated to increase by five to seven per cent in 2023. Food costs are one of the highest expenses in the living wage calculations.

“If we had a guaranteed wage it would help people,” said May. “But those small minds say, ‘Well I work for it’ … The ‘I’ comes out. What about ‘we’ as a community? ‘We’ can help people.”

How to give…

St. Luke’s Community Food Bank has launched its Christmas collection campaign – the reverse advent calendar – with the goal of having hampers assembled by Dec. 15.

The goal of the campaign is to stock the shelves for Christmas and the winter.

Until Dec. 11, bins will be located at Creemore Home Hardware, Foodland, Creemore Village Pharmacy and The Old Mill House Pub to accept donations of stovetop stuffing, cranberries, cereal, pasta and sauce, soup, lunch snacks, tea and coffee, cookies and chocolates for sticking stuffers. Donations of hand soap, shampoo, toothpaste and laundry soap are also needed.

Donations of toys, gift cards and money are also encouraged and can be dropped off at the church. (Gift cards make good gifts for teenagers.)

As usual, The Creemore Echo is collecting cash, gift cards and cheques. Cheques should be made out to either St. Luke’s Anglican Church or Clearview-Stayner Food Bank.

Creemore Firefighters will hold their annual Fill the Wagon Food and Toy drive from 5:30 p.m. to 7:30 p.m. at Creemore Village Green on Dec. 1. Donations go to the St. Luke’s Community Food Bank in Creemore.

Station on the Green is holding a bottle drive, and donations can be exchanged for admission to the next Creemore Coyotes game on Nov. 18.

Second Harvest

St. Luke’s Community Food Bank is supported through the Second Harvest program to supply surplus fish, meat and bakery products.

Second Harvest works with food businesses across the supply chain, including producers, distributors, retailers, hotels, and restaurants, to collect surplus food, and supply it to charities and non-profit organizations.

Unsold food still fit for consumption is frozen and redirected to the food bank through the Second Harvest app, getting it to those in need and diverting it from the landfill.

As a result of the program in partnership with Creemore Foodland, 30,461 kilograms of green house gases have been averted.

The St. Luke’s team also collects surplus product from other local businesses to add to their deliveries, receives green from The New Farm, eggs from A&D Bird Seed and donations of beef from the local farming community.

Individuals or businesses with food to offer, and anyone in need of food is encouraged to contact Lorna May at lornathedeacon@ and 705-352-2759, or leave a message at the church, 705-466-2206.

Trina Berlo photo: St. Luke’s Community Food Bank volunteers Sheila Koss, Ross Lotto, Marnie Hillier, Angie Cormier, Chris Taylor, Rev. Sharon Johnstone, and Rev. Lorna May (with her weekly shopping list clipped to her shirt so it’s not misplaced) sort the fresh fruit and veg for this week’s delivery.

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