The Hawkesbury, Ont., food bank has agreed to a controversial new cap for its clients.

The food bank's executive said Wednesday they have agreed to change the maximum number of allowable visits by clients to five times per year. Previously, clients could visit up to once a month.

The food bank representatives declined to comment on the change.

Before this afternoon's vote, a former president who stepped down in January condemned the plan.

Former president stepped down

Shirley Clermont was a volunteer for years at the food bank but found herself questioning its direction when the food bank began charging clients $5 for a food basket.

"You don't do that! You don't ask the people that don't have any money to come in and pay for a bag of food," said Clermont.

She became president last summer in the hope of changing things, but stepped down just six months later, when talk started of limiting the number of visits.

"That's one of the big problems that I had a really hard time with, is financial gain, and not enough food giving and heart giving to the people of Hawkesbury," she said.

Food bank not a member of provincial association

Charging clients who use the food bank and the proposed limit of five visits per year are policies that are in stark contrast to the accepted standard across the province, according to Ontario Association of Food Banks executive director Bill Laidlaw.

The Hawkesbury food bank is not a member of the Ontario Association of Food Banks.

"There are a number of food banks in Ontario that aren't members of our organization. So they can really do whatever they want," said Laidlaw.

But Laidlaw said he doesn't want to second-guess the way the Hawkesbury food bank is being run.

"Some of the food banks just don't have a lot of food, they don't have a lot of staff, they don't have a lot of money, and they have to do things differently," he said.

The change is set to take effect April 1st.

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