Do you know what it is to be hungry? I believe everyone has felt that angst. You may have had a wildly busy day and had to miss a meal or two. You may have been on a diet and had to restrict your calories. Maybe you have a religious belief that requires fasting.
Everyone needs to eat. Humanity shares this fundamental of life. It is a reason why I have spent a lifetime working through charities like the Sudbury Food Bank, to ensure hunger be relegated to a choice instead of a necessity.
More than 10,000 people, a large percentage of whom are children, are served every month by a food bank in Sudbury. We are very fortunate to have over 40 food providers working under the Sudbury Food Bank umbrella.
The vast majority of these good people who serve are volunteers. They run hot food programs, school programs, recovery programs and grocery programs to meet the needs of our community. They help street people, families on government programs, families dealing with addiction and mental health, and two growing segments, one known as the working poor, who have jobs but not enough resources to buy food, and seniors, who live on fixed income.
The year 2022 has become a defining year in the age of food banks because we find ourselves in that proverbial spot between a rock and a hard place. A trifecta of negative outcomes with large increases — in numbers of clients accessing food, in food required to donate and in costs of all foods driven by inflation.
The simple summary is that more people are coming in our front door, they need more food and everyone who goes to a grocery store see the prices — everything we purchase from milk to bread costs more.
I am sure that governments are actively working on this issue, as are many socially aware political groups. I have always said, from our beginning more than 30 years ago when Fr. B.J. McKee and I founded the Sudbury Food Bank, I would love to be able to close down, but until that day of enlightenment, we provide the social net protecting the vulnerable and feeding the hungry.
My view is that the Sudbury Food Bank is our community kitchen table. We provide an effective method of sharing with those who have and those who have not. We are a potluck supper — everyone brings something to share at our kitchen table; we do it through donating a can or a dollar.
Remember, every dollar you donate goes 100 per cent to food, and every dollar you donate provides us $6 of purchasing power. That provides a needed hand up, not a handout. The reason we have been successful is the kindness, caring and generousity of so many good donors.
At our fall allocation to our agencies, we distributed $433,000 for food. That is a lot of money, and it does not include the tons of food product already given. That “hard place,” we are $200,000 short of what was required for this allocation. We have dipped into reserves, but can not maintain these new levels of food without a big boost from our donors.
We are starting the annual Edgar Burton Christmas Food Drive, one of the most successful food drives in Canada, but we are needing to see increases of almost 30 per cent to care for the hungry. That looks close to impossible.
What gives us heart is knowing Sudburians define a caring community in Canada. If you are able to help us with a donation, go to our website, send back through the mail campaign, or support the Christmas drive — we need you! Hungry seniors, hungry parents and hungry children need you.
Geoffrey Lougheed is the honorary chair of the Sudbury Food Bank.