Community Food Share held their Annual General Meeting via Zoom on April 19. Community Food Share is the food bank that serves the counties of Dundas and Stormont. Their vision is that no one in our community should go hungry. They provide healthy, nutritious food, including meat, fresh produce, frozen vegetables, dairy products, eggs, packaged foods, and staples.
Clients can receive 7 or 8 days worth of food each month. Community Food Share supports almost 1000 clients regularly. One third of these people are under the age of eighteen. Many are seniors or people who receive disability assistance, but most of the clients are employed in low-wage jobs, the very jobs that are vulnerable to economic uncertainty.
Food banks in the past were seen as a way of providing some basic non-perishable food to those who experienced misfortune. Today, however, food insecurity is systemic, pervasive, and persistent. Food banks are now part of a regular food distribution system. Community Food Share also provides advocacy support for their clients.
Chair Jim Wilson thanked the staff which includes; Team Leader, Jane Schoones; Client Coordinator, Amy Saunders; and Site Attendant, Adelle Densham. He also thanked both private and institutional donors. Donations tripled in 2020 over 2019. Habitually, half of the food received came from donations of food during food drives, with the other half coming from cash donations or donations in kind from the community. Through 2020, food drives were not allowed because of the pandemic, so most of the food had to be purchased, much of it from local grocers. Customers could buy a bag of groceries at a set price at Foodland in Winchester, for example. Meat, dairy, and eggs also comes from large food processors through Feed Ontario.
Donations were up substantially in 2020. There was great support from the community through the pandemic. Community Food Share received donations through the North Dundas Christmas Fund, and the 100 Men and 100 Women Who Care. There was also COVID-19 pandemic relief funding from all three levels of government through Feed Ontario and Food Banks Canada. Understandably though, expenses were also up substantially, as there were a lot of people who required assistance during 2020. We are well into 2021, the pandemic is still very much a reality, and people are still in need of assistance. Going forward in these uncertain times, and not knowing what an economic recovery will look like, it is hoped that the community will continue to support Community Food Share, as they have through 2020.
Community Food Share in Winchester needs to expand to a larger, more efficient building. Their commitment to a healthy diet, including fresh food, necessitates an investment in significant infrastructure, including refrigeration capacity, protection from loss of power, and a variety of other equipment. They can access expansion grants through the provincial and federal organizations, such as Feed Ontario and Food Banks Canada. They will also be looking for support from the community. For a membership, the fee is $15 for an individual, or $35 for a family. Membership fees help support Community Food Share, and also let you vote at the AGM.