Parrsboro food bank usage up, donations static

Andrew Wagstaff
Published on December 6, 2011
Parrsboro Regional Elementary School collected food for the Parrsboro and Area Food Bank recently. Among the students donating to the cause were (front, from left) Grayson Welton, Hunter Wagstaff, (back) Matiya McFadden, Adam Collins, Kerry Forbes, Emma Trottier and Connor Campbell.
Andrew Wagstaff - The Citizen-Record

PARRSBORO - Usage at the Parrsboro and Area Food Bank has doubled in recent weeks, while donations have stayed about the same, according to chairman Lewis Brown, who said they have some tough decisions to make.

"We have a meeting in January to see what direction we're heading in," said Brown. "Right now we're buying more goods all the time to keep things going. We had a little bank account built up, but it's dwindling very fast."

The food bank is still seeing a steady flow of donations from its "regular" contributors, but has not been picking up a lot of extras, he explained. A collection by the air cadets during the recent Santa Claus parade brought in less than expected, and Brown was hoping the annual collection at Parrsboro Regional Elementary School would boost their supplies.

"In January we'll have to decide if we're going to cut down what we're giving out, or close up a day or two per month to try and offset the increases of what we're giving out," he said. "With cold weather coming on, people are not donating a whole lot."

The elementary school had boxes of food ready to be picked up on Dec. 6, the result of an annual food drive the school has been doing for at least 12 years, according to vice-principal Norma Collinson. The school also holds a second food drive in the winter, usually around February.

"Our enrolment is down, but kids still seem able to maintain the same amount of giving," said Collinson. "I believe we need to teach our kids to give from a very early age, and all staff and teachers have done a teaching piece around it."

Teachers discuss with students the food items households seem to go through the most, and suggest they donate accordingly, e.g. cereal and juice for children, tea and coffee for adults, and even items such as cake mixes are donated to help with the festive time of year, she explained.

"We've probably been collecting for 3-4 weeks now," she said, looking over the several boxes of food. "We just ask that kids bring in whatever is in their means."

Events like the school's food drive are very helpful to the food bank, according to Brown, who said non-perishable items like Kraft Dinner are always very popular.

However, it is perishable items that the food bank has to buy, that are causing much of the strain. Last Friday, for example, they ran out of hamburger and eggs when twice as many people as expected came in to use the food bank. Normally 12-15 people would be in on Friday, but last week saw 24 come in.

"The items we're buying each week, like hamburger, eggs, canned milk, butter... things we don't get much of, are costing us," he said. "It's taking the cash coming in and more to keep us operating."

Under the circumstances, he said the food bank is doing "exceptionally well."