Most of us would likely associate food drives with Christmas, Thanksgiving or even Easter – a time when food is on our minds and when we often think of those who are less fortunate.Yet last Saturday the Food Bank of Waterloo Region initiated a one-day food drive blitz in an effort to raise awareness and restock their shelves in preparation for the busy summer months.
In total, 500 volunteers at 40 sites – including Foodland and No Frills in Elmira and the Foodland in St. Clements – collected 122,950 lbs of food in the effort known as Dig In.
“We’re really happy with not just the volume of food that we received, but with the enthusiasm that the entire community showed in so many ways and that they were able to dig in and help us out,” said Wendi Campbell, executive director of the food bank.
Residents of Elmira and St. Clements pulled their own weight for the campaign, donating more than 2,500 lbs of food at the three grocery stores, and 20 volunteers donated their time throughout the day to collect the food and sort it. They also received $231 in cash donations which will be used to buy perishable items such as eggs, milk and bread.
Elliott Coach Lines also donated a bus, and Home Hardware donated a truck to help transport the food as well.
“We’re very, very thankful for the bus and the truck, and the stores for allowing us to be out there, and the people for giving. It was greatly appreciated and needed,” said Kelly Christie of Woolwich Community
Services, who helped organize the food drive in the area.
Christie also said that all the food donated in the area will remain on the shelves of the food bank at WCS, which she said enticed many people to give more because they knew it was staying in their community.
“People appreciate that it will stay here and support their neighbours and friends.”
According to Christie WCS gives out between 10-15 food hampers per week and about 630 in total last year, and that the need for food banks has been on the rise in the area.
Families can go in to WCS and they will receive a shopping list based on the size of their family, and they take that list and pick out whatever they want from the shelves, as well as a small serving of meat such as a ham or some sausage and any toiletry products that may have been donated.
The one-day food drive was designed to maximize the amount of volunteer help the Food Bank of Waterloo
Region could employ, and to really raise awareness in the community about hunger.
“The concept of Dig In came when we realized that the community is busy – there are a lot of things going on, and people are busy going about their lives, and we wanted to be able to do one of our annual food drives in a away that would make it as easy as possible for the community to participate and engage,” said Campbell.
Combined with totals from other spring events and campaigns, the food bank is confident that they will have adequate supplies to support over 100 agencies and programs throughout the summer months.