Local food banks fill hampers ahead of Christmas
Showing others you care is a big part of what the Christmas season is all about.
Volunteers for local food banks might have their own thoughts about a good way to get in the spirit of the holidays.
Food banks in Bay Roberts, Carbonear and Placentia are preparing their Christmas hampers to distribute to those who need them.
Demand at the Society of St. Vincent de Paul (SVP) food bank in Carbonear has increased considerably since president Kerri Abbott first got involved with the organization over a year ago. She anticipates 300 hampers containing turkeys, vegetables and others foods will be needed; almost double last year’s demand. SVP’s service area extends to Old Perlican and down the North Shore.
Abbott said SVP attempted to make the food bank on St. Clare Avenue more accessible and visible this year, which would account for some of the increased demand. However, rent is also rising in the region, and other monthly costs take precedent over food when the numbers fail to add up, she added.
“There’s a lot more people out there that need to use food banks that aren’t,” Abbott said, noting access to transportation in rural areas definitely presents a problem for some.
The Placentia and Area Community Food Bank also relies heavily on donations from businesses and residents and the work of volunteers. Food bank president Elizabeth Roache said her group takes calls everyday from people looking for
“There’s a lot more people out there that need to use food banks that aren’t.”
— Kerri Abbott
help in the lead up to Christmas. It will serve upwards of 200 clients this Christmas.
“Even to give the family a treat like Christmas candy or chocolate, that’s another big thing,” said Roache. “It’s nice to give them a treat as well as Christmas dinner. You try to give them a little more at Christmas.”
Food drives organized by schools and community groups are typically a reliable source for donations in the Placentia area.
Revenue generated by an associated secondhand goods store benefits The Helping Hand’s food bank in Bay Roberts. Operated by a board representing 12 local parishes in several surrounding communities, The Helping Hand has a full-time manager and another staff person. Manager Darlene Kearley typically helps prepare 200 Christmas hampers annually.
“We have regular clients that visit the food bank every month — and it is a once-a-month issue, unless it’s an emergency,” she said, estimating it serves 120 clients on average each month.
“Christmas time we always get more … It’s probably just people find it more difficult during the Christmas season.”
In Carbonear, c e real , canned meats, macaroni and cheese and children’s snacks are in short supply. While the food bank does manage to purchase some of its food to distribute, it has to prioritize that spending on other items such as bread, butter, and milk.
Roache names similar food i tems when asked what’s needed the most at her food bank, which operates inside the Freshwater Community Centre.
According to Abbott, many clients lack cooking skills. The Society of St. Vincent de Paul and other local groups in the Carbonear area periodically hosts cooking classes to address that issue.
“Food insecurity is a huge thing in this area, because once you can’t afford it, you go years without buying it. When we get fresh vegetables, a lot of the time, people don’t know what to do with it because they’re so used to taking a bag of French fries.”
“It’s hard to please everybody in every way,” she said.
The profile of who uses a food bank varies in the Trinity-Conception-Placentia region. There are students, seniors, young families, and adults with recently deceased parents living on their own for the first time.
The Community Food Sharing Association also supports the three food banks through periodic food donations.
Darlene Kearley is The Helping Hand’s manager. Its food bank is partially supported by sales at its secondhand store located on Patterson Street in Bay Roberts.
This represents just some of the stock kept at the Society of St. Vincent de Paul’s food bank in Carbonear.