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Montague food bank turns to social media as demand increases

The Southern Kings and Queens Food Bank in Montague, P.E.I., says it's facing a steadily increasing demand — but it's managing that demand in part by turning to social media to connect with and find support from the community.

Number of families using food bank has doubled in last three years

Food bank co-ordinator Frank Dourte wants to reach out to hungry people in the Montague area 'who are not here and they should be.' (Katerina Georgieva/CBC)

The co-ordinator of the Southern Kings and Queens Food Bank in Montague, P.E.I., says it's facing a steadily increasing demand — but it's managing that demand in part by turning to social media to connect with and find support from the community.

The food bank, one of several across the Island that benefits from donations raised through CBC's Feed a Family campaign, underway until this Friday, serves at least 300 families every month — about double the number it served just three years ago.  

There's no stigma and we don't judge.— Frank Dourte

"We're excited to say we're modernizing the food bank a little bit by involving social media," said Frank Dourte, the food bank's co-ordinator, who said response on their new Facebook page has been "fantastic." 

"For example for the Christmas hampers we were short on toothpaste and toothbrushes and other grooming things, and Superstore read it on our social media page so they went ahead and decided to offer it," Dourte said. 

The future of the organization is with fresh ideas from younger people, Dourte said, so he sought to attract more to its board.

Volunteer was once a food bank client

Destiny Best is one of those new board members and volunteers, and also manages the food bank's social media. 

Destiny Best is a volunteer board member and manages the Montague food bank's Facebook page. (Katerina Georgieva/CBC)

"It helps to have an online presence, because many young people just Google things," Best said.

She said the food bank's new Facebook page has led to greater awareness and better community connections.

Best moved to the Island from Toronto, where she used food banks and even foraged for food in dumpsters. Now, her financial situation has improved and she's happy to be able to give back. 

"P.E.I. is a beautiful place to live. It's very magical and the community support is just astounding — you don't really find this in other places of the world," Best said.

This is Dourte's first Christmas running the food bank, and he said it has been "hectic."

Some people in need continue to seek food after hours when others in the community won't see them there, he noted. 

"We want to reassure them there's no stigma and we don't judge," Dourte said, adding he worries some in the community are going hungry out of shame.

"Those are the people I want to reach out to — those who are not here and they should be.

"People are hungry. And I think it's wrong for me to be sitting at my own table and eat the food that I have in front of me and not thinking about others that don't," said Dourte.