Bad times good times for food bank

Flemingdon Park Ministry food bank in East York continues to thrive through donations, support and the strength of its community.

A report released at the beginning of this month from the Ontario Association of Food Banks (OAFB) found the struggling economy has begun to take a toll on donations at food banks throughout the province.

Flemingdon Park Ministry food bank, however, has continued to prosper.    Rev. Helena Houldcroft is very proud of how well the food bank is doing.

“Being connected to a faith base, both Muslim and Christian, is really a benefit to us,” Houldcroft said. “When we partnered with the Muslim community for this food bank, it gave us strength.”

The report generated positive action over the Thanksgiving weekend and most food banks did well. But executive director of the OAFB, Adam Spence, continues to find that the overall supply to Ontario food banks struggles to meet the demand.

“The overall supply of food remains below average heading into winter. Financial donations continue to lag behind targets and historical donation trends. As food banks require financial support to maintain operations and purchase perishable foods, there will be a growing challenge to keep moving forward,” Spence explained.

New strategies may help increase donations.

“Food banks are employing many long-standing and creative means of trying to increase donations, from grocery store food drives to fundraising on Twitter,” Spence said.

The OAFB has also partnered with Ontario farmers to create increased availability of fresh food. Houldcroft was amazed by the support that farmers are willing to give.

“I’m totally impressed with the farmers. They come into the city and sell their wares and then what’s left over they give to the food bank. It’s got to be tough for them in this recession, and yet they are still generous to the food bank,” Houldcroft said.

The OAFB has also called on the government to help out.

“We have engaged in significant public engagement and advocacy efforts for action from the government to help reduce hunger in Ontario,” Spence said.

The OAFB will be holding a meeting with government representatives in

December, discussing issues such as a proposed farm donation tax credit and social assistance.

Houldcraft believes the future of food banks could change.

“I see incredible hope and vision,” Houldcroft said. “We need to empower people to access their own food, and to have more food security rather than having to rely on food banks. That is what we are trying to do at our ministry.”

The OAFB will be releasing an update on the October report in December, which will include more details about various food banks in Ontario.