HUNTSVILLE – With area families set to give thanks this holiday weekend while sharing an indulgent meal, local food banks are urging residents to donate as demand is increasing and supplies are dwindling.
“There’s always a need for different things at the food bank,” said Sharron Harwood, of the Salvation Army Food Bank.
Both Harwood and Heather Berg, of The Table Food Bank, have noticed a definite increase in demand over the past month.
“We’ve already started into it and it will continue from now throughout winter,” said Berg. “We’re hoping people from our community will help provide turkeys and hams for our food bank guests.”
Berg said they have freezers and fridges ready to be filled with such donations.
Looking past Thanksgiving, both food banks are low on staple items such as peanut butter, Kraft Dinner, canned fruit and canned veggies, dairy products and items for school lunches.
“Lunches for kids are always in demand,” said Harwood. “Sometimes families put those (snacks) off so they can keep the regular food going.”
The food banks are a vital service to Huntsville and surrounding communities as they help to offset low incomes when money is tighter.
“We’ve been told by our guests time and time again they don’t know what they would do without us,” said Berg. “It would be very difficult on our town.”
According to staff, combined the food banks help more than 200 families per week.
Donations are relatively steady for both food banks throughout the year, but Berg said the table is in need of more consistent financial donations.
They’ve started a new campaign, Set the Table, Fill the Shelves, to make it easier for people to pledge a one-time, monthly or yearly donation.
“We’re really needing donations to pick up as it’s been low this year,” said Berg. “People are going through difficult times with the economy, so a lot of families are cutting back on extras and giving is down as well.”
The Table Food Bank purchases the majority of food from a supplier in southern Ontario. One 600 pound skid of beverages, canned and packaged food, cleaning supplies and toiletries is purchased for $220, including shipping (through Muskoka Transport). Currently the food bank goes through 35 skids each month, over and above community donations.
Funds received through the new campaign that exceed what the table requires to continue current services will be directed to the Table Soup Kitchen Foundation’s men’s shelter project. The foundation is hoping to have the shelter operational by spring 2013.
The Table Soup Kitchen will be hosting a Thanksgiving meal on Monday, Oct. 8, from 5 to 6:30 p.m. at Trinity United Church. All are welcome.
For more information on the table’s new campaign visit www.thetablesoupkitchen.com.
Meanwhile, The Salvation Army Food Bank moved into its church at 4 Mary St. East earlier this week. Harwood said the move will make the food bank more accessible for everyone.
The Salvation Army’s annual food drive with the Huntsville Fire Department is set for Dec. 5.