DAN CEARNS The Standard
NORTH DURHAM: Over the years, the food banks in Uxbridge and Port Perry have seen an increase in clients.
There are currently 228 clients registered at Loaves and Fishes Food Bank, located in St. Andrew’s Chalmers Presbyterian Church, in Uxbridge. Just to put it in perspective, in 2006, the Uxbridge food bank had 50 clients who used the food bank each month.
Food bank co-chair Patti Moloney told The Standard that on average, of the 228 clients currently registered, 100 clients visit the food bank monthly.
Of the 228 clients, 10 per cent are of the ages of 18 to 24 years, 19 per cent are of the ages of 25 to 34 years, 32 per cent are 35 to 50 years old, 22 per cent are of the ages of 51 to 59 years old, and 17 per cent are 60 years of age or older.
“The majority of our users are family aged, between 25 and 50. It's hard for people to make ends meet, at the end of the month. They pay their bills and don't have a lot left over,” Ms. Moloney said. “In Uxbridge, the majority aren't homeless, and for the majority it's not a visible poverty.”
She also spoke about the different types of poverty Loaves and Fishes sees. "There's a few. One is disability, people who have any form of disability, so they're not fully employed. They're either not employed or not fully employed. Whether it is a physical disability or a mental illness, that would probably cover the majority. Then, there are people who are just underemployed. So, they're either unemployed, or they can't make ends meet. So they, really sometimes, just need the food bank for that last week of the month between paycheques,” Ms. Moloney said.
Operation Scugog Coordinator Karen Teed said the local Port Perry Food Bank has seen a slight increase in clients over the years.
“The dynamics have changed. We have a lot more single people and couples and less families,” she said.
Ms. Teed also explained why she thinks this dynamic has changed.
"Living accommodations, people can't afford to live here so they move away,” she said.
According to Ms. Teed, Operation Scugog sees an average of approximately 100 clients per month or 20 to 25 per week.
Similarly to the situation in Uxbridge, Ms. Teed said the poverty in Scugog is not visible.
“I think some people don't realize their is a need here, because they don't see people on the street and most all communities everywhere, especially North Durham, have food banks and maybe a lot of people don't know that,” she said.
Ms. Moloney said there are a few things that need to happen for the community to better combat poverty in the area.
“Economic development in order to attract businesses and thus job opportunities. There is little job growth locally. More job training to enable the unemployed to qualify for well-paying jobs. There needs to be more affordable housing for low income individuals and families.”
Ms. Teed said there needs to be more affordable housing in Scugog.
“It's a reality that we need more affordable housing here," she said.
Both food banks reported seeing a lot of donations during the holidays, such as Christmas and Thanksgiving, but not as much in the spring and summer.
“The food bank receives an overwhelming response at Thanksgiving and Christmas, but from late spring through early fall donations are lean. It is a challenge to maintain consistency throughout the year. There is no reliable or sustainable funding from one year to the next or one season to the next. Support by way of regular monthly donations can alleviate this dilemma,” Ms. Moloney said.
Ms. Teed said Operation Scugog sees a similar drop off in donations around this time.
“When people have asked different groups that do big food drives, maybe the odd one we've put off or said 'instead of October could you do one in April?'”
However, both wanted to compliment the communities for their generosity.
“We are always amazed at the generosity of this community,” Ms. Teed said.
Ms. Moloney said the Uxbridge community always steps up when Loaves and Fishes is in need.
“We are so very fortunate to have such wonderful support from the community, from our reliable team of 50 volunteers who have donated years, and some even decades, to running the food bank, to individual donors and local business who fund raise and run promotional events that benefit the food bank, our responsive local media, and St. Andrew's church for the space they provide for the food bank. We couldn't provide the service we do without all of these contributors.”
For those looking to donate to Loaves and Fishes, Ms. Moloney has just one request.
“Right now, there are seven buckets of expired food that were donated that we need to get rid of. So when people donate, it would be good if they checked the expiry dates, just making sure they are not donating something the food bank cannot give out,” she said.
Donations to Loaves and Fishes can be dropped off on Mondays, from 9 a.m. until 11 a.m., or people can phone 905-852-6262 to arrange an alternative time to make a donation. Loaves and Fishes is located at 40B Toronto St. South. For more information, visit uxbridgefoodbank.com.
Donations to Operation Scugog, located in a portable beside Victory Christian Centre, at 593 Alma St. in Port Perry, can be made on Wednesdays, from Noon until 4 p.m., or people can call the food bank, at 905-985-3087.
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