Thunder Bay food banks starving for donations
Donations hampered by flood relief focus and closure of two 'faithful' store contributors
Posted: Aug 7, 2012 11:07 AM ET
Last Updated: Aug 7, 2012 10:57 AM ET
Thunder Bay-area food bank officials say a shortage of donations has left their shelves nearly empty this summer.
Donations normally go down in the summer, but a couple of other factors have contributed to the more noticeable decline in contributions this year.
"Flood relief has taken attention away from the general giving and it's totally understandable,” said Volker Kromm, who runs the Regional Food Distribution Association for northwestern Ontario.
Thunder Bay residents have given generously to people struggling since the spring’s disastrous flooding, “but there are a lot of other people on the fringe and in the region that … don't benefit,” he said.
The association supplies more than 30 food banks and feeding programs in the Northwest .
Kromm added another contributing factor to the decline in donations has been the closure of two Zellers stores in the city that “contributed faithfully for the last number of years."
'Never had it this low'
Even 12-year-old Connor MacLeod — who asks his friends for food bank donations instead of presents at his birthday parties each year — noticed the barren warehouse at Thunder Bay's regional food distribution centre.
MacLeod said he was surprised when he dropped off his contributions.Connor MacLeod was surprised at the sight of the almost-empty warehouse when he dropped off his food bank donations. (Nicole Ireland/CBC)
"Last year there was piles and piles,” MacLeod said. “You could barely get through the alleyways. There was tons of food, but this year there's barely any."
"Quite frankly, we have never had it this low,” he said.
Warehouse volunteer Brian Scoging said normally, palettes of food would be stacked “full on both sides ... Now it's … bare."
Kromm noted financial contributions are most helpful, because the food distribution association can use the money to buy in bulk. But donations of food are also gratefully accepted, he added.
"Typically in the summertime there is a dip [in donations]. People aren't thinking about [the food banks],” Kromm said.
“[People] are on vacation [and] they're out of town. Other things are going on in their lives. This time of year our food supplies dwindle [but] the need doesn't change."
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