Traditionally, summer is a time when people kick back and take a break from all their worries.
It’s kind of hard to do this, though, if you are struggling to live below the poverty line.
“The food bank doesn’t slow down in the summer,” said Kelly Christie, director of community supports at Woolwich Community Services. “Hunger doesn’t take a holiday.”
The food bank has seen fairly steady use over the last several months, with the number of hampers issued ranging from 55 to 61 per month. A typical food hamper provides enough food to supply a family or individual for three to five days — a stop-gap measure to help get food bank clients get through a few hard days.
Right now, the food bank, operated out of the basement of Woolwich Community Services, is in need of several items — fruit juice, jam, sugar, instant oatmeal, canned fruit, mayonnaise and ketchup. The food bank also needs toiletry items, such as toothpaste and shampoo.
The food bank does, however, have an abundance of Kraft Dinner, soups and canned vegetables.
Christie is also beginning to look for supplies to help with the agency’s Lunch Crunch program that will start up again this fall, providing parents with the extras they need to pack nutritious school lunches for their children.
“We’ll definitely need juice boxes,” said Christie. “We’ll also be looking for other lunch stuff.”
The food bank traditionally sees a decline in donations in the summer months, likely because many people are away. Even church donations, which still come in on a regular basis, are less than usual, as people worship elsewhere while they are travelling.
Yet, in these tough economic times, the need is still there.
Christie said that she finds that many people, particularly individuals, hold off as long as they can before contacting the food bank.
“It’s still a very difficult call to make, and we are very aware of it,” said Christie.
First-time food bank users have a simple form to fill out, providing proof of income, as well as a current address.
Food bank users are then able to pick up one hamper a month, as needed, and, in a made-in-Woolwich approach, are encouraged to “shop” for the items they need in the food bank, which is set up much like a grocery store.
In this way, food bank users get food they actually like and need, saving other items for others in need with different tastes.
It’s all a part of Woolwich Community Services’ philosophy of giving those in need dignity, regardless of circumstances.
Food bank donations may be dropped off at local grocery stores or at Woolwich Community Services (located at 73 Arthur St. S.) Food items and cash donations are equally welcome, as the food bank also supplies fresh items like fruit, bread and milk, to supplement the canned donations. For more information, call 519-669-5139.