P.E.I. food banks call for 'Feed A Family' donations in face of strong demand
515 families registered to get Christmas boxes at Upper Room Hospitality Ministry
Island food banks are in need of donations ahead of the holiday season.
CBC P.E.I. is in the midst of its annual Feed A Family campaign to support food banks across P.E.I., with added urgency because of how difficult 2020 has been due to the global pandemic.
"We're kind of getting into the last week of our Feed A Family drive and we are really getting prepared for the distribution of your Christmas boxes," Mike MacDonald, the executive director of the Upper Room Hospitality Ministry, told Island Morning on Friday.
MacDonald said he is always in contact with other food banks and knows demand is up this year across the province.
"As of this point, just at the Upper Room, we have 515 families registered to get Christmas boxes," he said. "For us at the Upper Room, that is about 100 more than we did last year."
MacDonald expects there will be a demand for food bank services right up until Christmas Eve.
"We always see individuals that were hoping they wouldn't need the help and, unfortunately for them, they do," he said. "It's not easy to come and sign up for a Christmas box and ask for one."
MacDonald said the food bank is there if anyone does need to access the service.
"It is a difficult year for many people and, you know, give us a call, drop in and we will do our best to help."
Hoping for a strong week
Turkey donations did get off to a "slow start" this year, he said.
"I think a lot of that has to do with COVID-19 and individuals being a little bit more cautious of what they are doing and …not making many trips to grocery stores and that type of thing," he said.
"We have seen, you know, certainly a dip in donations so far, but we're hoping for a strong week."
Islanders have been extremely generous to us over the years.- Mike MacDonald
If enough turkeys aren't donated, MacDonald said, money has still been coming in and the organization will buy some — though he is worried stores may have trouble even sourcing them if the industry puts fewer birds on the market in the face of an anticipated drop in overall demand as holiday gatherings shrink.
"Islanders have been extremely generous to us over the years and, you know, this year has been no different with all the challenges Islanders have faced," he said.
MacDonald said he hopes to ensure "Christmas happens" for the people who need it.
Freezers are available for turkey donations at grocery stores and other locations across the Island — but this year, donations are not being accepted at the CBC office in Charlottetown due to COVID-19 precautions.
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With files from Island Morning