BY WESLEY BUTLER
The Cambridge Self-Help Food Bank kicked off its 28th annual Easter food drive on March 21, hoping to collect 72,303 pounds of food this season.
“So far, we’ve distributed about 168,000 pounds of food this year, and we hope to raise enough to keep going until Thanksgiving,” said Pat Singleton, executive director of the food bank. “From there, we’re going to see where we’re at, and that will determine our next goal.”
Within the course of a year, the food bank receives almost 850,000 pounds of food. They don’t determine their goals on a yearly basis, but instead look at how much food they’ve collected throughout a season (like Easter and Thanksgiving), and determine their next goal based on how much was donated in a season.
The highest amount of donations the food bank has ever received in a year from one organization was 10,000 pounds, donated by Babcock and Wilcox, followed by the Cambridge Community Church, which donates between 8,000 and 9,000 pounds a year.
Donated food items are distributed to 18,000 Cambridge families every month and 28 community organizations including soup kitchens and homeless shelters.
Food items mainly consist of tomato and chicken noodle soup, canned and dried pastas, apples, bananas, oranges, canned vegetables, peanut butter and baby food.
Singleton said one of the food bank’s biggest challenges is not having as many people donating as much as they used to.
“Because the economy is hard on so many people these days, they often have a hard time donating food because of layoffs and shortened hours,” said Singleton. “It’s hard to give under those circumstances, because some people think they need the food bank themselves.”
The Cambridge Self-Help Food Bank does more than provide food. It offers emergency and proactive services that help people recover from crises. Programs offered within the facility include the provision of emergency food assistance, the food co-operative program, infant, youth, adult and seniors programs and employment readiness programs.
“We want to make sure everyone gets a good, healthy meal every single day,” said JT Tomlinson, warehouse co-ordinator of the food bank. “We think we’re reaching that goal more and more every season.”
The food bank distributes more than 800,000 pounds of food and grocery products every year, with more than 10,600 children being fed annually through each of its programs.
The Easter food drive runs until April 8. For more information about the Cambridge Self-Help Food Bank, call 519-622-6550, or go to www.cambridgefoodbank.on.ca.