Warkworth food bank ‘in good shape’ as demand for services holds steady

Demand for food assistance remains constant at 7 Hills Community Pantry — but so is the help it receives to keep going.

“We’re in good shape right now,” said board chair Carolyn Lee

We couldn’t do it without the community support.”

That support comes in many forms, such as a young girl and a woman asking for donations to the food bank rather than be given gifts on their birthdays.

Percy Centennial Public School does a food drive around Christmas and the Girl Guides collect food during the Santa Claus Parade.

“The community is wonderful to us.”

That support is crucial as 7 Hills works with a budget of just $21,000 that’s made up mostly of donations, with a few small grants tossed in.

Each year on average, 7 Hills supplies food to 47 households, which range from single people to large families and includes seniors. Altogether, 80-some people make use of the food bank, which is open every Friday, from 11 a.m. to 12:30 p.m. at St. Paul’s United Church.

Clients in Warkworth and surrounding area receive a large supply of food once a month, but “many people do come every two weeks,” Lee said. “If they’re really strapped, we provide them with milk, bread, meat and eggs, every week or every two weeks.”

She began volunteering at the food bank three years ago after retiring as case manager at the Community Care Access Centre in Campbellford in 2012.

This is her second year as chair, having taken over from Gail Covert, who had served in that role for nine years.

“We had a very good year,” said Lee, who presided over the food bank’s annual general meeting recently.

In the last 12 months, 7 Hills received donations of sides of beef from the Northumberland Cattlemen’s Association and Hamilton Township Mutual Insurance Company, “which helped us immensely,” Lee said.

It also received a $600 Capacity Boost grant from Walmart for the purchase of a stainless steel table.

7 Hills had held two new fundraisers and both were “very, very successful.”

The food bank looked after clothing sales at the Warkworth Community Service Club’s annual Donnybrook Sale and made “over $1,000,” Lee said.

A show featuring Elvis tribute artist Paul Thain and another local entertainer, Pat Kelleher, raised more than $2,000 in September.

More recently, Sharpe’s Food Market and Northumberland OPP joined forces to hold a Cram the Cruiser event on behalf of 7 Hills for the first time.

“We collected 135 bags (of groceries), which really helped,” Lee said, because Food 4 All, Northumberland County’s nonprofit centralized food distribution warehouse located in Cobourg, “is going to discontinue stocking some of the items that we need,” such as Kraft dinner and canned pasta.

It figured we could get those through donations, Lee said. “They’re going to substitute vegetables and fruits. People are asking for more of that.”

Northumberland United Way again provided backpacks filled with school supplies for children in families who use the food bank.

“At Christmas time, we try to make sure that we’ve got toys,” Lee said.

Copied from article in the Independent newspaper written by John Campbell

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