Cornwall Ontario – The Agapè Centre, which also services children, is looking for some local super heroes to donate food, money, and grocery gift cards to help battle hunger. Hunger doesn’t take a summer vacation, so the local food bank needs some local super heroes now!
School’s out and the kids are savoring their holidays, but for many families in our community summer is one of the hardest times to keep food on the table. Ask any food bank, including the Agapè Centre, what time of year is their busiest for donations and they’ll tell you it’s December. But hunger doesn’t happen just at Christmas.
Many low-income families rely on school meal programs to help their get children the nutrients they need to thrive. During the summer months, kids don’t have access to these programs so parents on low income often struggle to be able to provide meals for their children.
Mathew, a father of three children, was recently laid off. Last week was the third time that he’s visited the Agapè Centre’s food bank.
“I was always working and now I’m laid off. It’s hard. It’s nice to get the extra help,” Matthew said.
The young father knows first-hand the particular strain of the added costs of the season.
“Kids love the fruits in the summer. They’re always hungry and more fruit is expensive on its own,” he said.
What does 1000 clients a month for the food bank look like? The Agapè Centre gave out over $15,000 worth of emergency food each month this June and July.
“The summer months can be difficult for many families to keep food on their tables, so we’re faced with a higher need for services from families,” said Johanne Gauthier, the Agapè Centre’s Operations Manager and Interim Executive Director.
“But it’s also the time of year that we see a substantial drop in donations.”
Over the summer, the Agapè Centre sees more children eating in the community kitchen.
“During the month of April, 26 children were served meals in the community kitchen, but in the first month that school was out (part of June and part of July), 44 children lunch in our kitchen – that’s an increase of 69%,” said Gauthier.
There are many ways to support the local food bank and soup kitchen, which services more than 1,000 people in our community. You can give fresh food from your garden, drop off a grocery store gift card or cash donation, or become a monthly donor.
The charity will issue tax receipts for any donation of $20 or more (cash or food or grocery gift cards with receipts).
“What we really need right now is money for fresh produce. And if people have an aversion to giving cash, we are always happy to receive PC gift cards,” said Gauthier. “The PC gift cards allow us to buy items like milk and eggs, which we don’t receive through normal donations.”
The Agapè Centre spent $4,500 this past month on fresh foods alone, including potatoes, carrots, onions, milk and eggs.
“We don’t want to be feeding bellies with empty calories. Low wealth is often correlated to low health, and we do not want to contribute to the costs of our health care system in the long run,” she said.
The local food bank and soup kitchen has been feeding people in need for over 40 years, and recent changes to the organization are making it easier to access services in a comfortable and dignified way.
“The upgrades at the food bank are great – I always feel welcome here. Don’t be ashamed when you actually do need the help,” said Mathew.