Amid growing demand, London Food Bank launches spring collection

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As the need for help grows, the London Food Bank is returning to its roots while maintaining some pandemic measures.

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“We need everyone on deck because our numbers are really starting to climb,” co-manager Glen Pearson said Wednesday. “We expect things to get worse. This will therefore be our challenge for the future. And I don’t mean just next month. I mean, over the next year or two.

The most recent statistics show overall demand for food at the bank’s central and neighborhood depots has returned slightly above pandemic levels, but with alarming trends, co-director Jane Roy said.

“What we’re seeing is more people coming more frequently. I think things are very difficult for people,” she said.

The percentage of people coming once a month for food has risen from the usual two to three percent in recent years to six percent in 2021, Roy said.

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The percentage of new clients, people who have never used the food bank, has been around 20% each year, but rose to 27% last year, she added.

Another sign of potential problems: In March 2022, the food bank helped 3,771 families (10,275 people), the second busiest month ever, Roy said. The busiest was in January 2014 with 3,870 families helped, she said.

Inflation and rising rents are likely to drive the growing demand for food aid, Pearson said, noting that 76% of food bank users in London are tenants.

Growing demand and the need to return to some traditional donation methods prompted the food bank to create a hybrid model for the annual spring drive.

Before the pandemic, the annual spring food drive included drop-off bags at editions of the London Free Press and traditional drop-off locations such as grocery stores and fire stations.

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COVID-19 safety protocols have curtailed these traditional methods, and the food bank has largely shifted to online financial donations during the pandemic.

This year, the food bank cannot use newspapers yet, but will resume accepting food donations at grocery stores and other locations, Pearson said. Although online donations have given the food bank the flexibility to purchase items, online food drives have lost an important personal touch, he said.

Some people prefer the security of donating food rather than making money online, he said.

For others, the physical act of buying and dropping off food is important.

“It’s a fact that it feels real. They can choose the food,” Pearson said. “I spoke to a family yesterday and the parents said, ‘The most important thing for us is that we take our kids to the grocery store and picking up the food. That’s the visceral part for them.

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Food donations will also bring back a sense of community to donors after the past two years of isolation, Pearson said.

“I think it’s this idea of ​​coming back together. But it’s also that idea now that food banks are about to be overwhelmed. And we will need donations no matter how they come.

More details on this spring’s food drive are expected to be released at a press conference on Friday.


SPRING FOOD COLLECTION

April 8 to 18

No bags in The London Free Press, but available in grocery stores. The London Knights of Columbus will be distributing bags at select grocery stores.

Food donations are accepted at major grocery stores, but not at fire stations.

Financial donations accepted at www.londonfoodbank.ca

Non-perishable items include peanut butter, rice, baby food and formula, soup, vegetables, beans, juices, canned meat and fish, pasta and pasta sauce, dinners canned and dry products such as powdered milk, cereal and crackers.

Non-food items such as diapers, toothpaste, toilet paper, laundry detergent are also welcome.

60% of donations will be distributed to other agencies and networks.

New this year: Support for Ukrainian refugees through the Ukrainian Center in London and the Humanitarian Coalition.

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