Local food banks feeling post-Christmas donation lull
The giving slows down after Christmas but the need doesn’t stop.
Local food agencies are feeling the pinch as supplies continue to dwindle despite the fact that hunger still persists.
“After the Christmas holidays, where we see a huge increase in donations that we get, there’s definitely a bit of a lull,” said Karen Randell, manager of social services for St. Matthew’s House.
“Usage doesn’t ever go down, so then we’re put in a situation where we have to then purchase food for the food banks, which is what we’re doing right now.”
St. Matthew’s House dips into its operating budget to purchase the food needed to meet the demand of its clients, Randell said.
That’s why food drives like the Ancaster Community Food Drive are so crucial both to replenish stock but also to raise awareness, she said.
Now in its 25th year, the drive collects food and funds to deliver to the city’s major food agencies, including Ancaster Community Services, Hamilton Food Share and Neighbour to Neighbour.
In the past 24 years, more than 1.4 million pounds of food has been collected.
This year, food items will be picked up from schools and donors on March 2, and donations will be collected by volunteers going doorto-door on March 4.
The drive comes at a time when people are getting their postChristmas bills and might be more strapped for cash than usual, said Sheryl Bolton, assistant director of addictions and community services for Mission Services of Hamilton. “It’s hard,” she said. “You have to pay all your Visas and your MasterCards off, and then what are you stuck with? Your kids are hungry.”
Without being prompted, people don’t always give in January because they have often focused their donations around the holiday season, she said.
While Mission Services has food to hand out, the question of whether it’s enough is hard to answer, Bolton said.
Food bank usage is changing. In the past, Christmas donations could be stretched out a little longer but not so now.
“If the numbers were lower, it would last a little longer, but our numbers are increasing all the time,” she said.
“With rents going up, with utilities going up, with the cost of food going up, people are accessing the food banks.
“Not just people on OW or ODSP. It’s working families that are having difficulties making ends meet.”
Mission Services never turns anyone away, Bolton said, but depending on what resources they have available, they would alter how many days worth of food they’re handing out.
At this point, they’re giving out about three days worth at a time, she said.
Some of the items needed at all of the local food agencies include peanut butter, meat soups, canned meats and fish, baby food and formula (with at least eight weeks to go until its expiry date), and hot cereals. For more information about the Ancaster Community Food Drive, contact firstname.lastname@example.org or visit ancasterfooddrive.ca.