Lon­don Food Bank fall cam­paign haul beats 2017 totals

St. Thomas Times-Journal - - FRONT PAGE - JONATHAN JUHA jjuha@post­media.com

Once again, lo­cal res­i­dents came through for the Lon­don Food Bank.

A fi­nal push from the com­mu­nity dur­ing the Thanks­giv­ing week­end helped the lo­cal or­ga­ni­za­tion reach 31,000 kilo­grams of do­na­tions, sur­pass­ing the 30,700 kg in do­na­tions it col­lected dur­ing last year’s fall drive.

Last minute do­na­tions from a num­ber of com­mu­nity groups, which con­ducted their own mini drives, made the dif­fer­ence this year, said food bank co-di­rec­tor Glen Pear­son.

“Peo­ple tend to wait un­til the last few days of the drive (to do­nate) . . . and there tends to be a surge at the end, but we were so be­hind on this one that we thought that even with the gen­eral pub­lic’s surge we might just not make it this year,” he said.

“We weren’t ex­pect­ing what we saw over the week­end, but that’s what re­ally boosted us.”

Sur­pass­ing last year’s num­bers wasn’t the only pos­i­tive news com­ing out the fall’s food drive.

Along with the in­crease in food do­na­tions, Pear­son said they also wel­comed a surge in money do­nated to pur­chase fresh food.

Food bank of­fi­cials stressed the im­por­tance of fresh pro­duce as they launched the an­nual Thanks­giv­ing drive in Septem­ber.

Ear­lier this year, the food bank reached a mile­stone, with half the food it was re­ceiv­ing and dis­tribut­ing be­ing per­ish­able.

Yet, this year’s re­sults were some­what un­ex­pected, Pear­son said.

“We had never had that be­fore in 32 years, but it re­ally took off this time,” he said. “It shows the pub­lic is just in line with what needs to be done in ev­ery com­mu­nity about fresh food and nu­tri­tion.”

Pear­son said the food bank doesn’t have a sys­tem in place to mea­sure mon­e­tary do­na­tions to­ward fresh food, but it is some­thing they will be look­ing at mon­i­tor­ing dur­ing the next food drive.

The in­crease in do­na­tions comes at a time when the bank is ex­pe­ri­enc­ing higher de­mand for its ser­vices.

Pear­son said dur­ing the first nine months of 2018, the food bank has helped about 3,400 fam­i­lies a month. They ex­pect those num­bers, which are al­ready up two per cent com­pared to this time last year, to go up.

“The gen­eros­ity is never in ques­tion in Lon­don,” he said. “We have never had a time when we have gone with­out it as a food bank.”

MIKE HENSEN/POST­MEDIA Ash­ley Wil­liams and Jes­sica Boudreault, both of Fan­shawe Col­lege’s so­cial ser­vices pro­gram, help to un­pack and sort do­nated food­stuffs at the Lon­don Food Bank on Fri­day. A last-minute in­flux of do­na­tions helped push the food bank’s f

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