Six Nations Food Bank in desperate need of emergency help this holiday

Six Nations Food Bank usage has exploded during the past three years, with numbers increasing from about 50 people a week to about 300 visitors a week now.

The shocking statistics come from Chair Mary Monture, who said they’ve had to start giving out less food to meet the ever-growing demand from the community for food.

“It’s very hard now,” Monture told the Two Row Times. “Our numbers keep increasing every week. It depends on the week and time of year.”

And as the holidays approach, the food bank is in desperate need of donations.

They operate based on donations and don’t have regular funding.

“I’ve been sending out donation letters but it’s not enough to carry us through,” said Monture. “Ive applied to the Community Trust,” she said, and she’s keeping her fingers crossed.

Food is going out as fast as it comes in, she said.

Food drives have long been standard around the holidays but Monture says whenever they’re given food from a drive, about 75 per cent of the items are expired.

“We don’t give expired food to people. What are they thinking? They (customers) could get sick.”

Monetary donations are better because they get excellent deals on bulk items from a wholesaler in Toronto.

“Our money goes further. We get wholesale.”

The food bank has spent $120,000 on food alone from January to September of this year.

“We’re ordering more. We used to order other every week, now it’s every week.”

And it’s not just people on fixed incomes using the food bank, either, she said.

What used to be considered middle-income earners are now using the food bank, too.

“We’re getting increased numbers, but not increased donations.”

On Thursdays, which are the food bank’s distribution days, they’re out of bottled water within an hour of opening.

They used to hand out a dozen eggs on Thursdays; they’re now handing out half a dozen.

Three bags of milk has turned into one bag of milk on food distribution day.

Monture is unsure of what advice to give on how people can survive the ever increasing cost of food.

“I can’t. Every situation is different. What works for me is not going to work for somebody else.”

They’ve also lost out on a lot of income by waiving their $5 user fee during the pandemic.

That means what could’ve been about $1,500 a week in income, based on 300 users a week, to buy food is now gone.

They also used to hold various fundraisers, which had to be dropped during the pandemic, resulting in even greater losses of income and donations to buy food.

“We survive on a very low budget,” said Monture.

She said she’s not sure if they’re doing a turkey give-away this year. She doesn’t usually hear from the donor until the week of the giveaway.

“It’s really hard to organize these things. We don’t know what we’re going to get from week to week.”

More and more people are feeling the squeeze when it comes to their food budget, and Monture says they shouldn’t feel ashamed to use the food bank.

“It takes a lot of courage to walk through those doors. It’s humbling to ask for help.”

The Six Nations Food Bank is appealing for donations right now, as well as volunteers to help stock shelves.

Anyone wishing to donate to the food bank can send money via e-transfer to sncfoodbank@gmail.com.

 

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