Food bank uses new 'needed item' signs in Elmira stores to drum up donations

Woolwich Community Services started putting up green "Needed Item" signs on grocery shelves the last week in June, starting with the Food Basics on Arthur Street.

Signs are a reminder of what food bank needs to stock shelves, coordinator says

Woolwich Community Services started putting green 'Needed Item' signs in the Elmira Food Basics the last week in June. (Melanie Ferrier/CBC)

Small green signs are popping up in Elmira grocery stores, letting shoppers know what items are currently needed by the local food bank. 

"It's a reminder," said Lisa Martin, food bank co-ordinator with Woolwich Community Services. "When I'm picking up something, and it's something I'm purchasing for my family, and I see that the food bank can use it as well, it's easy to pick up, purchase and drop off."

The food bank started putting up green "Needed Item" signs on grocery shelves the last week in June, starting with the Food Basics on Arthur Street. 

The food bank already publishes lists of items they need donated, and those are sometimes published in local church bulletins, but Martin said the new initiative is a way to remind people about what they can do to help the moment they take food off the shelf at the store.

Lisa Martin visits the grocery stores every week to put green 'Needed Item' signs by items that are on sale and are needed by the food bank. (Melanie Ferrier/CBC)

Every week, Martin checks the store's flyer for items that they like to have on hand in the food bank. If an item is on sale, she'll go to the grocery store and put a green sign by that item. 

If interested, needed items can then be purchased by a shopper and dropped in the donation bin at the front of the store. 

When they first pitched the idea, Martin said the store's management was "totally on board right away." 

"We're always looking for ways to support our local food bank," said Travis Restoule, who manages the Food Basics in Elmira.

Travis Restoule says items that are needed are selling well, which indicates the new signs are working. (Melanie Ferrier/CBC)

In the past, he said the store has run funding drives and has collected food bags, but this year they wanted to do something different. 

And even though the signs have only been up for a little more than a week, Restoule is ready to call it a success.

"I have noticed since the labels were put up that products that the labels are attached to have been selling a lot better than the norm. So, the labels are definitely having an impact."

Only a week after she started putting up signs at Food Basics, Martin said the program is already expanding to the Foodland location down the street. 

While she's not actively looking for other grocery stores, she said that "if people want to join in, we would be glad to start something."