Food banks starving for provisions

A slow down in donations to area food banks has volunteers worried the demand soon will override their supplies.
At the Salvation Army food bank, statistics for July showed an increase in the number of people relying on the service, dwindling down supplies from shelves, said coordinator Marj Atkinson.
“We’re about in the same boat as [other food banks],” she noted. “In the summer you usually do get down [on food] because a lot of people are away on holidays.”
The United Native Friendship Centre is facing a similar plight. Staff member Anne Sinclair said supplies of canned goods were diminishing, agreeing summer was normally a low point for donations.
An unexpected surge of clients in need of the Emo food bank left volunteers scrambling to replenish the shelves last week. And although a special appeal to area residents has temporarily staved off the supply problem, its coordinators aren’t expecting the provisions to last.
“We got into a crisis about a week-and-a-half ago when we had more going out than we had coming in,” said Brenda Meyers.
“The [appeal] brought us off the brink but we’re not nearly stocked to where we should be,” she added.
Although not associated with St. George’s Anglican Church, the food bank is located within the building on Coral Street. Food bank volunteers prepare hampers twice a week according to need.
“We’ve had an astonishing increase in the number of [users],” stressed Emo food bank co-ordinator Ted Burgoyne.
And Meyers agreed donations to the food bank are typically down during the summer months as the bank’s biggest contributors–church congregations–are smaller in numbers.
“There are 32 families using the food bank and 24 of them are new–and this is only August,” she stressed.
But the increase isn’t something new. Burgoyne, who also acts as treasurer for the Emo food bank, explained the number of clients has climbed steadily since its beginnings in 1995.
That first year, 46 people used the food bank during its first year. So far this year, 311 people called on their service.
“I am afraid the figures are going to be astronomical by the end of the year,” urged Meyers.
“For an area of less than 8,000 people, this is a lot of problems in an area that small,” stressed Burgoyne.
All three food banks are in need of non-perishables such as pasta, beans, rice, peanut butter, and milk powder. Canned vegetables, tuna, salmon, and soups also are sought-after items.