The Holiday season is one of giving, so it probably comes as no surprise that the West Nipissing Food Bank receives the bulk of its donations at this time of year. Several donation drives and events happening just last week provided the organisation with tons of food and money to provide to community members in need. However, despite approximately $18,495 and several thousand pounds of food being collected in a single week, the food bank is still feeling the harsh effects of inflation.
On Friday, December 9th, a food bank Radiothon was hosted by 99.3 Moose FM. Over the course of the day, approximately $11,662 worth of monetary donations and food were collected. That same Friday, the Our Lady of Sorrows Knights of Columbus spent time collecting donations from customers outside of Metro, No Frills and Giant Tiger. Their contributions came up to $1,696 and 800lbs of food. On December 10th, the MNR and Near North Crime Stoppers collected $1,427 and another 4,500lbs of food from outside No Frills. Another donation on behalf of Barry Bertrand’s Whisky Nosing fundraiser was also collected, netting $1,500 for the food bank. Finally, the Rotary Club of North Bay provided $5,000 to the West Nipissing food bank as part of a series of donations to local food banks in the region.
The contributions certainly help, and the food bank has not had to turn people away. However, despite a lot of attention and money, the organization is still in a crunch to provide for all of its clients. “With prices going up, it means our bank account is dwindling. We’re not able to do as much as we could,” explains food bank administrator Don Clendenning.
Inflation has caused two major problems concurrently: the rise in prices at the grocery store means that they buy less food for more money, and the number of clients using the food bank has gone from approximately 40 to 55 last year, to roughly 130 to 135 this year. That number, according to Clendenning, has been consistent for 6 to 8 months.
To put things into perspective, the West Nipissing food bank helps an average of 233 households per month according to a letter to mayor and council written on December 7th. The letter asks the municipality to renew its commitment to cover the organisation’s rent for next year, at $8,149.80.
Every two weeks, food bank volunteers go to No Frills to buy food to supplement donations. This runs at approximately $1,200 to $1,500, notes Clendenning. Finally, there are some other operational costs which he says are quite low, covering only basic things like office supplies. “We save a lot of money by being volunteers,” he stresses, but it still takes a lot of money to continue supporting those in need.