As many prepare for the cold winter ahead, some are thinking about others. Shelters, The Food Bank and other organizations receive donations all year round, but it may be most important during the winter months.
“We strive to serve a hot [nutritious] meal and we serve any kind food you would serve in your own home; spaghetti, meatloaf, mac n’ cheese, a lot of casseroles. Our budget is low so we rely on the generosity of the public, local businesses and our congregation for support,” said Brandy Greentree, a community resource advocate at the Soup for the Soul organization.
“The Food Bank is available five days a week and is open to everybody,” said Cindy Oliver, the Food Bank Program Manager. “The difference between the two programs is that the Christmas baskets [are] geared towards income and the Food Bank is open to anyone.”
“People can use the food bank once per month. They receive a 2-3 day supply of food based on their family size. People need to bring identification for each member of their household,” said Heather Vanner, the executive director for Community Resource Service.
The Food Bank also has a unit in which some employees gather volunteers to make Christmas baskets for people in need.
Oliver said, “It’s two parts, there is toys and there is food. For toys, parents come in, they register and come back at a later date to pick up toys. We provide toys for children 14 and under. For food, we provide a hamper. Last year we did just over 2200 hampers. They come with non-perishable food in it and we add in a turkey or ham depending on the family size, potatoes, carrots and apples.”
“We serve an average of 175 people every meal. The amount of people we get varies on the time of the month. At the beginning of the month we have less people because checks are out, like Ontario Works, ODSP and pensions. As the month goes on our number rise because the money they have been given and the food they purchased is running out,” said Greentree.
Not only is food important around the winter, but shelter is too. Some organizations cannot provide this kind of service, but they do point people in the right direction.
“We would refer individuals to the city housing department if they needed help, or to the Welcome In (Out of the Cold) Shelter,” said Vanner.
“The shelter is open to men and women 19 and up,” said Roger Luton, Resource Centre Manager at the Welcome In Shelter. “We have no limit on their stay but begin working on housing right away.”
People are encouraged to donate what they can to help these organizations helps others in need. Oliver explained that donations are quite slow this year compared to past years.
The Food Bank also has other services that helps people find jobs, the foodbox program, an income tax program and a backpack program.
The organizations make it known that they are grateful for the people that donate and for the people who give their time to help.
“We couldn’t do it without our volunteers,” said Oliver.