Business keeps booming for food banks

The demand for food donations appears never to diminish, according to some East York-area food banks.

Service task co-ordinator Kathie Collins-Williams of the Grace Pascoe Care Centre (GPCC) says that she has yet to notice a decline in food bank users during her 18 years working at the 72 Main St. location. If anything, she says, it’s been steadily rising — despite a decrease in the 2011 national unemployment rate.

The GPCC was founded 60 years ago and currently serves people in the area of Victoria Park Avenue in the east to Woodbine Avenue in the west, and from Danforth Avenue in the north to the lake.

Williams says her ultimate goal would be to see food bank users getting a job.

“We want to help people get off of assistance and eventually have a job one day,” Williams said. “We don’t offer training here, but the Daily Bread Food Bank has special programs designed to help them.”

The GPCC receives the majority of its stock from the Daily Bread Food Bank and the rest from the public and surrounding churches.

The Daily Bread Food Bank is one of the largest food banks in Canada and receives 80 per cent of its donations from big companies. It then distributes donations through the former cities of East York, Toronto, Scarborough, Etobicoke and York.

The GPCC takes and distributes clothing as well as food, but that too has to be of reasonable quality.

“Right now in our clothing donation area, we are experiencing many incidents where people are bringing in clothes that really should have just been thrown in the garbage,” Williams said. “It’s really disgusting because they have bugs in them.”

The Daily Bread Food Bank makes its delivery every Monday, but according to Williams, sometimes it’s not enough.

“We often have shortages,” she said. “We only distribute on Tuesdays and Thursdays but by Thursday afternoons we are running out completely.”

Williams said she sometimes purchases things such as juice, coffee and cookies when she thinks there won’t be enough.

“This week we were given baby food and diapers,” she said. “Every little bit helps.”

The GPCC in particular has a majority of single people coming in who all have to go through the same financial assessment process before being given anything — a requirement of the Daily Bread Food Bank.

“The portions for everybody is the same,” Williams said. “This usually includes vegetables, fruit, bread, mac and cheese, milk, tuna, pasta, rice and hot dogs.”