During the season of barbecues, corn on the cob and cold drinks on the patio, it is easy to forget about those people in our community who don’t have as much to eat, a phenomenon illustrated by rows of empty shelves at the Food Bank of Waterloo Region this summer.
In response, the township’s young people are rallying together to remind people that donations are still needed; members of the Youth Centre of Woolwich are organizing a ‘Fill Our Pool With Food’ contest in support of the local food bank.
“The youth in the group are often looking to give back to the community,” said Kelly Christie, director of community support at Woolwich Community Services. “This is just one of the things that we have planned for the summer but because people don’t always think about food banks at this time of year, we thought it was a good place to start.”
About 18,000 pounds of food are dispensed each week, according to Ruth Friendship-Keller of the Food Bank of Waterloo Region, the distributing agency which provides food to a number of local organizations throughout the region.
“The amount of food that we distribute throughout the year is fairly constant,” she explained. “But the amount of food donated is much more variable.”
Food donation peaks around Thanksgiving and Christmas, when many schools, charitable organizations and community groups tend to organize their annual food drive.
“But people are busy with other things throughout the summer,” said Friendship-Keller. “They don’t always think of the food bank at this time of year.”
Essential items such as rice, stews, chili, canned fruit, beans in sauce and peanut butter are those that typically get depleted most quickly and are in the highest demand at this time of the year.
“We are continuing to send out the normal amount and we are okay for the next few weeks, but towards the end of the summer, our shelves will start to get empty.”
The food drive is just one of a variety of activities planned this summer for youth centre participants.
Other options include a trip to Bingemans in Kitchener where local youth can enjoy the water park, mini golf or go for a lap around the track in the go-carts.
Since last September, 190 memberships have been purchased at the centre. An annual membership costs $20 and for that price, youth can come out and enjoy access to the internet, a pool table, movies, books, gaming systems and a chance to participate in offsite activities.
Offsite activities come with an additional fee.
“They’re worthwhile,” said Christie. “It gets our youth out and allows them to go places with their peers.”
A new initiative this year will be the introduction of age-specific evenings. On Tuesday evenings from 6-10 p.m., kids in Grades 6, 7 and 8 are invited to come out and enjoy the centre. On Thursday evenings, it’s time for the Grade 9 kids.
Despite the many off-site activities happening this summer, the centre will remain open to the public Tuesday to Friday from 2 to 10 p.m. The drop-in centres is geared for young people from Grade 6 to 19 years of age. For more information, stop by the Woolwich Memorial Centre or WCS to get a calendar of events or visit www.woolwichyouthcentre.blogspot.com.