December 5, 2017
By: Leslie Claire Amminson
As the holiday season approaches, the need for food bank donations increases. The Muse spoke to Anne Sinnott, secretary of the campus food bank, about how their organization works and the increasing demand for donations over the holidays.
Roughly how many people does the MUN Food Bank service?
The food bank served about 3500 people in 2016, which includes family members, and counts each visit by an individual as a separate number. If a student came 12 months a year, that would be 12 of the 3500. We don’t have full stats for 2017, of course, but know that we had about 120 people, plus family members, each month of January-March 2017, and by October went over 250 people, plus family members.
We did an article earlier this semester on difficulties food banks across the city were having in terms of getting enough donations. Has the MUN Food Bank had the same issue?
The Campus Food Bank is finding with our increased usage this fall, we are not seeing a corresponding increase in food and monies donated. People are generous in donating to us, to be clear, it’s just the demand has gone up to a level that’s hard for donors to keep up with. We are coping so far as we had a small reserve of funds, but expect that come January we will have to carefully review expenditures. We are worried about being able to keep up with the increased need for food.
Does the Food Bank receive donations from clubs across campus?
We do receive donations from clubs and societies. We don’t always know which ones give, as people drop off food at our door without leaving the club name. To give one example of student donors, this fall the Rotaract Club of St. John’s has been particularly generous with us, giving us a large cheque, plus vegetable hampers at Thanksgiving, plus more food after a Halloween food drive. As noted, we get food from other groups and clubs and are grateful to everyone of them. We also get donations from many MUN departments, MUN unions, MUN admin, individual students and employees, as well as some outside donors. We are a member of the Community Food Sharing Association, an umbrella group of NL food banks which receives corporate and community donations and passes them on to us.
Where are you located and how can people donate?
We are located in Corte Real, Burton’s Pond Apartments, room CA1000K. People can drop off non-perishable food there at the door, and we prefer that donors come outside our open hours, to give users privacy. If our door is not open, donors can just leave the food at the door and the next volunteer by will bring the food in. If pickup is needed, particularly if there is cash involved, email the food bank at firstname.lastname@example.org and a volunteer will get back to donors to pick a mutually agreeable pickup time. Details about donations can be found on our website. If people want to donate specifically to our Christmas hamper food and funds drive, we would love to hear from them by December 6 if at all possible.
Do you find that the Food Bank is used more leading up to Christmas?
Our normal usage this fall is definitely up. October was about double September. We don’t have November numbers finalized yet but expect it will be large, as well. We also do Christmas hampers, in addition to normal monthly hampers, for regular food bank users. We will finish accepting applications for them on November 30, and anticipate about a 70% increase over last year.