WELLINGTON COUNTY – More county residents are accessing support from local food banks this season, with all locations across the county reporting increased demand.
Food banks provide an essential service by putting food on the table for many families and individuals.
With increased demand comes increased need for donations, as food banks depend on community generosity to provide support for people in need.
The Centre Wellington Food Bank (CWFB) has seen a 30 per cent increase in demand this year, with the greatest increase in “the number of seniors” in need of support, said director Jackie Andrews.
People who want to contribute can support the Christmas Grocery Card Program, the food drive at FreshCo in Fergus on Dec. 10 and 11, or the Christmas Angel Program that provides gifts for children.
For the Christmas Angel Program, sponsors donate gift cards chosen by families for them to purchase gifts for their children. To support the program, email firstname.lastname@example.org before the deadline of Dec. 24.
Donations to CWFB’s Christmas Grocery Card Program can be made through the website at www.cwfoodbank.org/donate.
Andrews said there is no deadline because the food bank has already paid for the cards, so “all donations directed to this program will be gratefully received” to recover costs.
Food donations can be dropped off at the Fergus Zehrs, FreshCo or at the Centre Wellington Food Bank at 12-105 Queen St. W.
The food bank is open on Tuesdays from 10am to 4pm, Wednesdays from 1 to 7:30pm, Thursday from 10am to 4pm, and Fridays from 10am to 12pm.
To request support from CWFB, call 519-787-1401.
CWFB is in needs of cans of soup, tomatoes, vegetables, salmon, pasta sauce, rice and pasta side dishes, cold cereal, jam, peanut butter, juice, crackers and cookies.
In Erin and Guelph-Eramosa, East Wellington Community Services (EWCS) is more than just a foodbank, supporting “families and individuals, including seniors and children” with a range of services, including healthcare and transportation.
The EWCS Christmas Campaign runs from Dec. 1 to 20, but director Bernadette Fernandez offers the reminder that “hunger relief programs support families and individuals not just during the festive season, but all throughout the year.”
EWCS has seen a “significant increase in new food bank clients in the last couple of months,” Fernandez says, with demand going up by 30%.
The food bank is in need of hygiene items, laundry soap, toilet paper, dish soap, kids’ snacks, juice, and pet food. They also request donations of grocery gift cards for perishable items like milk, eggs and meat.
Donations can be dropped off at either of EWCS’ locations: 45 Main St. in Erin and 143 Dennis St. in Rockwood. Monetary donations are also accepted in person at either location or online at www.ew-cs.com.
To connect with the EWCS food bank for support, people can call 519-833-9696 for the Erin office or 519-856-2113 for the Rockwood office.
Demand is also up at the Drayton Food Bank, where there has been an increase in clients of about 20%.
People can bring food or monetary donations to the Drayton Reformed Church at 74 Wellington St. S., or call 519-504-2346 to make arrangements for larger donations.
There is no deadline for Christmas donations at the food bank, where “donations are always welcome.”
They are in greatest need of breakfast items, hygiene items, and canned fruit and vegetables.
People facing financial hardship can apply for support from the Drayton Food Bank by calling 519-504-2346.
Located in the Knox United Church at 11 Allan St. E., the Clifford Food Bank offers food hampers once a month to individuals and families in need.
It is experiencing a slight increase in need this season.
The deadline for contributing to (or requesting) holiday hampers is Dec. 9, but Clifford Food Bank Chair Don Senek said donations are still greatly appreciated after this time.
During the holiday season many of the food bank’s resources are depleted, meaning “shelves are empty after the holidays,” Senek said.
Holiday hampers include turkeys for families and hams for individuals. Meat donations are greatly appreciated, as is peanut butter and any canned food. To donate to the Clifford Food Bank, call 519-327-8588.
Clifford residents can request support by calling 519-327-8588 and leaving a voicemail with their name, address, phone number, size of family, and details of food allergies and dietary restrictions. Requests made before 6pm on Tuesdays receive food deliveries on Thursday of the same week.
“The Harriston Food Bank has been very busy the past two months,” said representative Dave Mallett, with some families accessing food bank services for the first time.
He attributes this to global inflation.
“The prices of food, accommodation, heating and fuel are causing serious problems for everyone,” he noted.
The Harriston Food Bank is grateful for the support from its community; generosity that has only increased since the COVID-19 pandemic began, Mallett said.
To make a donation to the Harriston Food Bank, call 519-510-3663 and leave a voicemail to make arrangements. The food bank is in need of hygiene items like toothpaste, toothbrushes, shaving products, soaps, paper products, dish soap and laundry detergent, as well as food donations.
Toy donations can be dropped off at Leslie Motors at 73 Elora St. S. in Harriston. The toys will be distributed along with the festive food hampers.
Mallett said Leslie Motors has worked with the Harriston Food Bank “for many years to try to make every child have a Christmas to remember.”
Hampers will be delivered by the Harriston Kinsmen on Dec. 16, Mallett said.
Residents of Harriston can seek support from the food bank by calling 519-510-3663 (519-510-FOOD) or messaging the food bank through Facebook. To request a Christmas hamper, call 519-509-1574.
Barbara Burrows at the Palmerston Food Bank said “demand has increased a little” this year.
The Palmerston location welcomes all non-perishable donations especially pastas, soups, cereals, granola bars and lunch items. Food donations can be dropped off in Palmerston at the food bank downstairs at the United Church (215 James St.) and at Foodland (150 Main St. E.).
For monetary donations the Palmerston Food Bank accepts cheque, cash, and e-transfers to email@example.com. Deadline for Christmas donations is Dec. 14.
To receive support from the Palmerston Food Bank call 519-417-4774.
The number of individuals receiving support from the Arthur Food Bank has increased from 85 to 115 people per month (35%).
Marilyn Theurer said the Arthur Food Bank needs “just about everything,” including canned fruit and vegetables, pudding cups and fruit cups for kids’ lunches, drinking boxes for lunches, granola bars, peanut butter, pasta and sauce, instant rice, Kraft Dinner, canned tuna, cereal, diapers and wipes, toilet paper, feminine hygiene products, soap, toothbrushes and toothpaste.
Donations can be dropped off at the Arthur Foodland (165 George St.) or delivered directly to the food bank at 116 George St. (open from 10am to 12pm on Tuesdays).
Most churches also collect donations for the Arthur Food Bank.
Theurer said the food bank is “very grateful for the generosity of people of Arthur and area,” without which it “would not be able to operate, as we do not receive grants from anyone.”
For monetary donations, cheques can be mailed to the Arthur Food Bank via General Delivery, Arthur, ON, N0G 1A0. Income tax receipts are provided.
There is no deadline for donations to the food bank.
Donations for holiday hampers can be delivered to the curling club on Thursday Dec. 15 at around 9am, as the Lions Club will be there to sort and pack them then.
People living in Arthur in need of support can call 519-848-3272 or email firstname.lastname@example.org.
Volunteers with the Mount Forest Community Pantry deliver monthly food hampers to the homes of people in need.
Officials there say they have “definitely” seen an increase in demand recently, with “a lot of new clients” applying for support.
A volunteer with the food bank noted the increase has been mostly individual people rather than families with children.
Donations can be dropped off at the Mount Forest No Frills (504 Main St. N.) and Foodland (121 Main St. S.).
The Mount Forest Community Pantry is “always looking for peanut-free snacks” for children’s school lunches, as well as fruit juices and canned fruits and vegetables.
Monetary donations can be left in the secure box at Foodland or mailed to P.O. Box 54 in Mount Forest.
To donate specifically to the Christmas hampers, call 519-509-1574 for details or mail donations to the above P.O. box, noting they are for the Christmas Bureau.
Volunteers at the Mount Forest Community Pantry are very appreciative of the community support, noting people have “been extremely generous,” especially throughout the last year.
People living within 18 kilometres of Mount Forest and facing financial hardship can call 519-323-9218 and leave a message with their name and phone number to request a registration form to apply for support.