October 16, 2017 By: Julia Abundo
According to Thrive, a community-based organization in St. John’s, there are fourteen food banks servicing families in St. John’s and Mount Pearl. These food banks provide vital services to all kinds of people in our communities and often allow people to make ends meet when it would not otherwise be possible. Unfortunately, these institutions, like the rest of the province, are facing tough times.
The Muse had the opportunity to speak with one of the Vice-Presidents of the St. Vincent de Paul Society food bank on Mundy Pond Road who also works as a delivery assistant in the pantry. The St. Vincent de Paul Society works a bit differently than community food banks like Bridges to Hope, for example, in that they are a Roman Catholic society and rely on donations from the Corpus Christi church. Nonetheless, they are feeling the effects of the recent shortages.
Our source said that generally speaking, people are giving less than they used to. She speculated that this is likely due to an increased number of people being unable to afford to donate. “Times are tough,” she said.
Not only are fewer people donating, but also more families are making use of the food banks, again likely due to our recent provincial economic downturn. This has led to a discrepancy that has made working in the food pantry, an already difficult job, much harder.
If people are looking to help, monetary donations are preferable. Often, people do not like to hear that, as it feels less tangible than a food donation. It is, however, truly the best way to make a meaningful difference. The pantry workers that do what they call “frugal shopping” with these funds have a much better knowledge of what is best to provide to families in need.
If a food donation is what is most feasible for you, our source has one key tip: check the expiration date. “Often people clean out their pantries for food drives and end up giving us off-date food that we can’t use,” she said. She made it very clear that she was in no way trying to discourage generosity; just make sure what you’re giving is still edible.
The declining support for our food banks is certainly concerning especially following the Thanksgiving holiday; however, with some increased generosity and awareness, the problem can be solved just in time for the holiday season. For more information on food banks in St. John’s, you can check the Community Food Sharing Association’s website.