Photo: Board Chair Judy Rosenberg and Fergie Reynolds
Submitted by the Richmond Hill Food Bank – As our Richmond Hill Community Food Bank ended 2018, it was good news and bad news for the volunteers, clients and volunteer board of directors.
The “bad news” was that in the final months of 2018, the number of hungry families and individuals coming through the doors for emergency food aid had spiked dramatically.
“I fear we might be approaching a crisis in the coming months, as our numbers are steadily increasing,” board chair Fergie Reynolds told local media. “For instance, this October (2018) we served 1,162 clients, versus 917 served in October 2017 – that’s 245 more people helped than the same month last year. Last November (2017) we served 967 people, but this past November we supported 1,313.”
That was the highest number of clients ever seen in a month at the non-profit food bank in its 32-year existence, and a growing number of those were seniors (up to 20 per cent some months), and more than 33 per cent of clients last fall were children between the ages of newborn to 18 years old. “This ever-increasing number of hungry clients means shortages on our food bank shelves. While we’ve never had to turn people away, stock in our warehouse some weeks dwindles to alarming levels,” food bank manager Lee Reynolds told The Liberal newspaper. “Thanksgiving and Christmas food drives usually take us through to April, but I’m not sure the food will even last to February. In October alone, we registered 52 new families.”
The “good news”? After the story about “unprecedented demand” was published online and in print in mid-December, the community of Richmond Hill rallied to aid the food bank. Individual donors came through the doors with funds or food, saying they read the story and wanted to help. One person even brought in hundreds of dollars worth of grocery store gift cards to distribute to clients just before the holiday. Two significant corporate donations came in, and several music marathons or benefit concerts brought in more food donations.
The food bank board and manager sincerely appreciate the outpouring of support at the end of 2018, but know with continued demand and the growing need for food aid in Richmond Hill, the food bank will need even more support in the year ahead.
The Richmond Hill Community Food Bank is located at 55 Newkirk Rd. (between Crosby and Centre) and can be reached through manager Lee Reynolds at 905-508-4761 (weekday mornings) or by email at: [email protected]. To find out the most-needed items or information on volunteering, the website is www.richmondhillcommunityfoodbank.ca and the food bank Facebook page is https://www.facebook.com/RichmondHillFoodBank/