Hope Community Services (HCS) is asking locals to give generously as they launch the first inaugural Hope Food Bank Fund Drive.
Usually at this time of year, the Thanksgiving Food Drive is held to re-stock the shelves at the Community Food Resource Centre (888 Third Avenue). But HCS has spent the last two years shifting away from a ‘traditional’ food bank model, and a new approach is needed.
HCS executive director Michele Thornhill says the Community Food Resource Centre has become so much more than your typical food bank, offering programs like Family Meal Kit, a food skills and literacy program for low income families with school-aged children. There’s Adventures in Cooking for 9 to 12-year-olds. There are weekly community meals, a low-cost community market and a Green Prescription program aimed at adults with diet-related illnesses who struggle to purchase enough fruits and vegetables each week.
All of those offerings succeed because of funding.
“This is an an effort to shift the narrative for people living in poverty and to fill in the gap where government is failing,” Thornhill said. “And we’ve done this mostly through the generous donations of individuals and businesses in our community and around the province.”
The donation of funds rather than food will allow HCS to maintain, improve and expand programs, and moving away from donated food is a step toward healthier offerings at the food bank.
“Donated foods can be some of the most unhealthy foods imaginable, often highly processed and high in salt and/or sugar (think Chinese noodle soups),” Thornhill said. “Instead, we offer healthy core items like peanut butter, canned protein, canned black, kidney and other beans, tomatoes, etc., along with fresh produce, milk and eggs.”
Thornhill said food drives are incredibly labour intensive before, during and especially after, when volunteers sort through what’s been donated.
Food drives consume staff and volunteer time for weeks, if not months, leaving little time to deliver more impactful programming,” she said. “As much as 30 per cent of donated food is spoiled or outdated, by years sometimes, and we have to bear the cost of disposing of it.”
Funds, on the other hand, allow HCS to purchase healthy fare, with money going further through industry partnerships and wholesale purchasing.
With the support of our community partners and the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints, HCS volunteers will be handing out flyers to let people know how they can donate to the Hope Food Bank Fund Drive and a barbecue will be held Oct. 8 (from 11 a.m. to 2 p.m.) at the Community Food Resource Centre, with activities for children, families and community members.
“Staff and volunteers will be on hand to answer questions and provide information about programs,” Thornhill noted. “We hope the local community and businesses will join us in helping to create a strong, vibrant, healthy community for all.”
For more information or to make a donation, click on the ‘DONATE TODAY!’ link at hopecommunityservices.com.