I often hear, “you’re all over the place!” Especially in the fall and winter, I seem to be busy volunteering as MC at local charity events (pre-Covid, anyway), working in the food bank and manning the kettle for the Salvation Army. I have always enjoyed volunteering in the community. It’s a very rewarding pastime. And I’m not affluent, so instead of writing a cheque, I donate my time and efforts. But to be honest, I volunteer to feel that I am doing something in a sometimes helpless situation.
Did you know that the demand on our local food bank has more than tripled since the beginning of the pandemic? There are a variety of reasons for this. Many people were laid off. Some had family members turn to them for help, and their household grew in size. Others are unable to work, due to health concerns and other factors. We have people accessing the food bank for the first time, fully dressed for work. They have jobs – but they can’t pay rising housing, fuel and utility costs while also putting healthy food on the table. It’s a very difficult situation to be in – and it’s happening in large part to frontline workers: those in long term care and customer service.
It's frustrating that our government doesn’t have a firm plan in place to stock food bank shelves in order to support the people who keep things operating safely in a pandemic - people who are forced to put their own health at risk so that our seniors will be well cared for and we can access the grocery store. Our local food bank did gratefully receive a hefty grant from the government as emergency funding. That money was to be used during the pandemic, and it helped to stock shelves for the past year. It is spent now, and there is no sign of a renewal of financial support in the near future.
While our funding disappears, our numbers remain steady. Many food bank clients are returning to work, but they still need help to feed their families. Costs have gone up. Shifts have been reduced. The world is not the same as it was – and it won’t be changing anytime soon. Our need continues while our support fades away. We are working on sustainable plans for community sponsorship and support, because we know we will have to raise much of the funds ourselves.
This is why I ring the bells at the Salvation Army kettle. We hope to raise enough money to stock our shelves for several months after this Christmas campaign. Thank you for your donations. Every dollar helps.