RLB passionately believes that our people and our communities count. In a time like no other, we recognize that more families than ever are living with moderate to severe food insecurity. In this season of giving we made feeding our neighbours a priority.
In years past RLB has enthusiastically supported education programs, toy drives and various other initiatives during the holidays. As the uncertainty of the COVID Situation, RLB has chosen to repeat the steps we took in 2020 and is focusing our efforts on hard-hit food resource programs and initiatives. COVID-19 continues to strain our food banks as the number of families and individuals that required support increased. With rising food costs due to supply chain issues, many families are unable to give as much as they have in previous years. These organization’s efforts and planning to supply consistent and reliable meals to our most vulnerable has put a strain on their resources ahead of the holidays, which historically speaking is already a high–demand time for food banks.
In Shelburne, the Shepherds Cupboard Food Bank has maintained their primary goal of keeping both their clients and volunteers healthy, while still providing food for the community. In an effort to support the greatest number of people while minimizing direct contact they have shifted their program to a hamper model. With over 50 volunteers within the organization, they hold firm to their promise to provide a 3-5 day emergency supply of food for those in need.
Last month, the Orangeville Food Bank called on their regular supporters to help them collect 70,000 pounds of food to replenish their supplies in time for the holiday season. They have reported a 66% increase in the number of patrons relying on them for regular meals. That is over 330 additional families fed over the past 6 months.
In their annual year-end statement, The Food Bank of Waterloo Region reflected on another year unlike any they had seen before. In order to support the growing number of families relying on their Community Food Assistance Network they reimagined their entire model. In March of 2021 they unveiled the new Mobile Pantry which enabled them to expand the safe distribution, access, and availability of fresh food to economically vulnerable households in high-needs neighbourhoods throughout Waterloo Region. This addition provided flexibility in how, where, and when a program operates and distributes food.
The Centre Wellington Food Bank recognized the lasting effect that the pandemic would have on vulnerable families. In addition to maintaining the food supplies needed to feed Fergus and Centre Wellington, they began planning for the future. Their mission is to install a state-of-the-art Kitchen to serve our community at large and to accommodate a range of different user groups. This kitchen will allow them to offer classes and training in meal preparation and will enable them to prepare nutritious homemade meals that can be vacuum sealed and frozen for later consumption.
In Guelph, we chose to support Emma’s Toy Drive through Guelph Wellington Women in Crisis (GWWIC). For the 19th year, GWWIC has worked to collect donations (both monetary and toys) to spread Christmas cheer to children in shelters in Guelph and Wellington County. Many of these children have experienced trauma and/or violence. The donated toys will brighten the lives of displaced children during an imaginably difficult time.
We continue to be grateful for the privilege to support these incredible organizations once again. We wish you peace and happiness this holiday season. May you find comfort and joy in the spirit of giving whenever possible.