The number of clients depending on the Newark Neighbours food bank to feed themselves and their families has increased significantly during the pandemic.
The local charity received mountains of food to help out those in need at Thanksgiving, Christmas and most recently at Easter, but it’s time to start building up the food supply again to meet the demand, which has jumped by 40 per cent, says food bank manager Cindy Grant.
The pandemic has meant people are being laid off or having their hours reduced, and are having trouble making ends meet.
Newark Neighbours is now supplying food to a total of 59 clients. Many are single or couples, says Grant, but there are some larger families. Of the 106 people, 33 are children.
When she decided a food drive would be the best way to meet their goal, Grant reached out to town CAO Marnie Cluckie, to ensure they could stage the event without contravening any COVID restrictions.
“She was great, and offered to do anything they can to support us, but also made sure we were following all the pandemic restrictions.”
When Grant asked the Niagara-on-the-Lake Rotary Club for help with a planned porch pickup, “they came back immediately with a ‘yes, anything you need,’” says Grant.
As volunteers, they have to go through COVID screening, and will take an online test on the provincial website and email it to Grant, so she has the documentation.
“We’re asking any donations to have their donation on their porch, marked with NN, to ensure it’s contactless,” she says.
“The Rotary Club has been so keen, wanting to know what they can do to help. So much has been cancelled because of the pandemic, I knew they would immediately agree. They’re looking for ways to give back to the community. People can’t get out and do what they usually do.”
Locals are also being very generous not only with their time, but with their financial donations. “They’re not travelling, and they’re not spending as much money as they normally would. We saw that at Christmas. They want to help out.”
Typically Newark Neighbours has money earned in the thrift shop to purchase whatever food items are not donated, to supplement what is on their shelves. With the shop closed, they’re not bringing in that revenue, but donors were generous over the holidays, she says. However they would rather fill the shelves with donated food and hold on to cash donations for specific dietary needs, such as gluten-free items, or infants’ formula or baby products.
The basic items that are donated go quickly, she says, such as cookies, crackers and coffee — just some of the items they never have enough of.
Also, Phil’s valu-mart is going to pick out a selection of eight items they can use, and put them in bags to be purchased and left in a bin in the store, for those who would prefer to donate that way.
It will be held this weekend, May 15 and 16, and Grant is asking people to call or email to let volunteers know there will be donations on their porches to pick up, and their address. Volunteer drivers will be on the road both days from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m, both days, and are willing to travel to all corners of the Old Town, St. Davids, Queenston, Glendale and rural areas in between, ato pick up food to stock Newark’s shelves.
The pickup is intended to be contactless, and has received the blessing of the town, as long as all COVID protocols are followed, including wearing gloves and masks, and physical distancing.
Rotary volunteers will do the pickups, and Newark will be waiting to sort donated items, spread out in the thrift shop area, which is closed to the public during the pandemic.
For pickup call 905-7498, or email firstname.lastname@example.org.
The food bank is open Tuesdays and Thursdays, at 310 John Street East, from from 9:30 a.m. until 1 p.m. to serve food clients and accept food donations only.
The list of food items that are needed: • Canned green beans • Canned peas • Canned mixed vegetables • Habitant Soups • Chunky Soups • Canned pineapple • Soda (Soup) Crackers • Snack Crackers – any kind • Peanut Butter • Coffee or Tea • Toothpaste / Paper Towels / Kleenex • Canned Ham, Corned Beef or Spam • Flakes of Ham, Chicken or Turkey • Canned Tomatoes • Canned beef stew • Cream of Mushroom Soup • Rice • Bottled Juices – Cranberry or Apple • Cereal – any kind • Jams – any flavour.• Jello – any flavour • Canned Red Kidney Beans • Canned salmon • Canned chili or spaghetti or ravioli • Canned Baked Beans • Kraft Dinner Mac & Cheese • Sidekicks & Mr. Noodle packets • Applesauce or Canned Fruit • Cookies – any kind • Granola Bars • Ketchup / Mustard / Mayonnaise / Green Relish
We appreciate all donations of food supplies; however, we are currently well stocked on the following items: Canned Tuna • Stuffing Mix • Canned Corn • Stuffing Mix • Oatmeal • Cranberry Sauce • Tomato Sauce • Pasta