Nfld. & Labrador

Happy Valley-Goose Bay food bank in desperate need of donations

Organizers at the Labrador Friendship Centre in Happy Valley-Goose Bay say they're serving far more clients this summer than previous years. On top of that, fewer donations are coming in.

Greater demand combined with fewer donations leads to empty shelves, says executive director

Jennifer Hefler-Elson, executive director of the Labrador Friendship Centre, says donations are down and demand is up. (Jacob Barker/CBC)

The food bank in Happy Valley-Goose Bay is in desperate need of donations. 

Patty Maloney, community outreach co-ordinator at the Labrador Friendship Centre, which operates the food bank, says the need for food in the community is growing, while donations have declined. 

"Compared to clients we served last year from April to July, we have an increase of 52 clients," she told CBC's Labrador Morning.

"We need a lot of non-perishable food items to be able to fill these bags.… We've run out of everything."

There's a drop of about $2000 in donations from last year to this year, and the demand is gone up.- Jennifer Helfler-Elson

Last week, when the shelves at the food bank were completely bare, executive director Jennifer Helfler-Elson reallocated funds so they could buy some of the necessary items for existing orders.

But she doesn't expect that food to last any longer than two weeks. 

"There's a drop of about $2,000 in donations from last year to this year, and the demand is gone up," she said. "We desperately need help."

The Labrador Friendship Centre was forced to reallocate funds in order to buy groceries for existing orders. (Shutterstock)

In addition to the dwindling food supplies at the Friendship Centre, money is scarce as well. 

A voucher program that was helping people to purchase items like bread, apples, oranges, potatoes and carrots has been discontinued completely. 

"We can't afford to pay for those items anymore," said Helfler-Elson.  

We need to get together as a community and find out what's happening.- Patti Maloney

The shortage of food came as a bit of a surprise to the Labrador Friendship Centre. Typically, demand creeps up during the fall and around Christmas. 

Maloney isn't sure why the community seems to be in greater need this summer. 

"I've been with the Friendship Centre Food Bank on and off for 11 years, and this is the lowest I've ever, ever seen the donations and the highest I've ever seen the clients," she said. 

"There is a bigger conversation to be had. We need to get together as a community and find out what's happening."

Read more from CBC Newfoundland and Labrador

With files from Labrador Morning

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