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Support and demand both increasing at WN Food Bank

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by Isabel Mosseler
Tribune


The West Nipissing Food Bank has witnessed what is likely an unprecedented wave of generosity over the past several weeks as the Christmas season approached. From personal family food drives to radio telethons, collections at sporting and social events, corporate and institutional donations, primary schools and Christmas carollers, the wave has continued since before Thanksgiving in October. Food Bank chair Ken Perrin reports that the volunteers who kept the food bank going following a hasty transition are constantly amazed and encouraged by the clear evidence of support for their cause. Perrin recently told the Tribune that a shift in direction has also created a new synergy of cooperation, so that other local organizations are working with the food bank, to the mutual benefit of everyone.

When the WN Food Bank changed leadership, as the result of the death of former president Claudette LeRoy, the hastily gathered board seized the opportunity to make some structural changes, and the results have galvanized a whole new group of volunteers. In fact, according to Perrin, the food bank is experiencing what many organisations can only dream of – a wealth of volunteers and public support. “It took us awhile to get a handle on everything, to get organized well enough, but everyone is feeling quite emboldened,” states Perrin. It comes at an opportune time, as demand on the service keeps rising. “Our numbers keep going up. In October we had 93 families, and in November we had 112, so it’s constantly going up and we’re still getting 20 to 30 emergencies a month.”

The new executive of the food bank decided to consult with other food banks in the region, work with other organizations, look at approaching grocery stores, examine fresh food options, work on raising money, and build cooperative ties with similar community groups to share resources, in an effort to build sustainability and be more effective. “Because we have been more open and transparent, we have more people coming forward who have never come forward before, who want to do something for the food bank,” notes Perrin. “With the new executive there are a lot of friends, and we have people coming forward saying ‘We’re having this craft show, we’re having this bonspiel’, and they want to raise funds for the food bank, or food donations. We’re just surprised at the number of people who want to come and help us.” 

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