The Regional Food Distribution Association is pitching a vision for food banks in Thunder Bay that looks to better serve clients.
The head of the Regional Food Distribution Association says his pitch for more co-ordination among food banks will help make the most of volunteers, space, and donations.
But Volker Kromm said he expects some pushback to his idea.
"People are very proprietary and they take a lot of pride — and rightly so," he said.
"They've done a great thing in terms of satisfying need. But at some point you have to say, ‘alright, the need is big, and sometimes it takes two organizations or three organizations to come together to make it work."
Offering 'vitamins kids need for growth'
For food bank clients like Kristi Eaton, improved co-ordination among food banks would be a welcome move.
She has been coming to the Redwood Park Church for five years because it offers something many others don't — a good selection of fresh produce.
"It's very important because most food banks give you canned goods and it's very hard to feed to the kids. I mean beggars can't be choosers," she said.
"But at least here you get a selection and you get to offer those vitamins the kids need for growth. Here they give you a list of things that you need based on age groups and what not, which is awesome. Other ones they give you 'this is what you can get, that's it — take and go.'"
Eaton said she relies on the food bank when social assistance isn't enough and has had to hop between food banks, just to get enough for her family of four children — three of whom are growing boys.
That's a worry for Kromm.
"We need to have them come together and pool their resources and say, ‘okay, you have a better storage site, you might have a better kitchen or whatever it is.’ Combine those."
Convincing so many different programs to work together will be a challenge, but careful planning could mean improved access to nutritious food for clients across the city, Kromm said.
Kromm said he would also like to set up a central food bank client database to track demand and special dietary needs.