Food bank numbers soar over summer
A concert at the Lighthouse Festival Theatre on Oct. 4, 2013 will benefit the Simcoe Caring Cupboard and the Lifeline Food Bank in Port Dover. Shown is Kim Scoyne, chair of the Simcoe Caring Cupboard. (SARAH DOKTOR Simcoe Reformer)
Local food banks have had a rough summer.
“Summer used to be slower but we saw record numbers in August,” said Kim Scoyne, chair of the Simcoe Caring Cupboard.
In August, the Caring Cupboard served 276 households compared to 158 in 2011.
Scoyne theorizes this summer was particularly difficult because residents weren’t able to supplement their income with agricultural work due to the difficult growing season caused by the weather.
However, numbers have been higher all year and haven’t dropped below the 200 mark in any month.
Don Gardner with the Simcoe Caring Cupboard believes numbers will continue to rise. “Unless we get an industry in here,” he said.
While many of the food bank's patrons are working, they are often paid minimum wage leaving little to no money for food after rent and bills are paid.
The food bank continues to receive monetary donations, but providing their services hasn’t been easy.
“We’ve really shopped specials,” said Scoyne. “It’s getting trickier to keep the shelves stocked.”
On Wednesday the food bank was the recipient of a donation of more than $2,000 worth of food and cleaning products purchased for free by a group of local couponers including Kelly Lang, Laura Bonnett, Cynthia Challoner and Jane McAllister.
Other local food banks haven’t been so lucky.
“Donations are really slow coming in,” said Geoff Manuel, director of operations at the Port Dover Lifeline Food Bank.
They have managed to keep their shelves stocked through monetary donations the food bank had saved.
The Port Dover operation serves 156 families, with an average of 15 to 25 families per week.
“The last two weeks things have picked up,” said Manuel, and overall the number of people using the food bank is up 60% in recent years.
Delhi’s Sharing Pantry has also seen an increase in patrons this summer, although exact numbers were unavailable.
“We’ve have a fairly busy summer,” said Andy Fitch, co-chair of the Delhi Sharing Pantry.
The food banks agreed donations normally pickup in the fall thanks to food drives hosted by schools, churches and other organizations.
“Right now we’re buying pretty much everything,” Fitch said. “Fruits and vegetables, we don’t have fresh. Apples are pretty scarce.”
“We’re always in need of non-perishable items,” he said.
Food banks are also operated in Waterford and St. Williams. A list of the emergency food programs in Haldimand and Norfolk Counties is available on the Haldimand-Norfolk website at www.hnhu.org.
519-426-3528 ext. 112