Nova Scotia

School supplies needed at Halifax food banks

Halifax food banks are appealing for school supply donations as they face a growing demand gearing up for a new school year.

Halifax food banks are appealing for school supply donations as they face a growing demand of families gearing up for a new school year.

"We really need both, we need supplies and money," said Mel Boutilier, who runs the Parker Street Food and Furniture Bank in the city's north end.

He's looking for pens, pencils, paper, backpacks and crayons — anything that could be used during the school year.

Since the food bank began to give out school supplies five years ago, the number of families coming through the door has grown.

"They'll come in here and you'll see a long line of people waiting to get the backpacks," said Boutilier. "We put everything in the backpack so when we hand it over the student is ready to go to school."

He said last year his bank supplied 232 children with school supplies and he expects that number to grow this year.

He has supplies for about 35 children so far.

"It's not just supplies. Some people need clothing to help their children look nice when they go back to school."

The Emmanuel Church Food Bank in Spryfield also needs school supplies.

Esther Faulkner, who's run the food bank for the last few years, said she had to call Feed Nova Scotia to say she was low on supplies.

"I don't have any backpacks or nothing, or lunch bags. We usually get that too," she said.

"If they need everything, it's around $40. For a family with four or five kids in school, on a low income — it's very expensive."

Faulkner said when they ran out of school supplies last year, she made up a few packs out of her own pocket.

"When I see school supplies on sale I buy them. I do what I can for them."

She said she knew of one little girl was using a plastic bag to carry things to and from school.

"She'd never had a book bag, she had nothing. And I did up a book bag with a lot of school supplies in it, and I gave it to her," said Faulkner.

Both Faulkner and Boutilier say they're seeing an increase every week in the number of new clients they serve at their respective banks.

The food banks say they're already getting calls from parents looking for supplies. They will continue to gather up pencils and paper and hand out everything they have during the last week of August.