Feed Ontario has released data showing how their connected foodbanks were used in 2018 in the province.
In Hastings-Lennox and Addington, they report there were 11,501 visits to Food Ontario foodbanks in 2018 from 3,183 unique people. “It doesn’t truly reflect us, it reflects the whole county,” Director on the Board for the North Hastings Community Cupboard Monica Piercey explains.
She says that larger areas like Belleville see the most usage when it comes to foodbanks. Piercy adds that the data is also only collected from Feed Ontario connected foodbanks, which leaves out many unconnected ones in rural Ontario. “The numbers are quite a bit higher than what his map is showing,” she says.
Piercy notes that many foodbanks, like North Hastings Community Cupboard, also offer more than just food. “It’s not just about numbers of people coming in, it’s about their needs,” she says. Piercy says they spend time talking to people when they come in to learn more about their situation. “It’s the feeling of someone cares,” she says. “They can tell their story and they can be heard.” She adds that prepared food is always available when the Community Cupboard is open. That’s on top of the community garden they have open for anyone to use.
Right now though, Piercy says there is a “dire need” for donations of non-perishable food and cash. “We have a high percentage of the population that work in the service industry and because we’re a tourist area it’s seasonal work and minimum wage,” she explains. “And people are not able to support themselves on that.” She says that many residents who used to supplement their groceries, now are coming in for all of their groceries. She points to the rising cost of rent, higher gas prices, and expensive water and sewer bills as issues many in the area face. “What happens is food ends up coming out of the budget and people are showing up at the foodbank,” Piercy says.
You can visit North Hastings Community Cupboard at 2 Madawaska Street and bring non-perishable food items or cash to donate there, or drop your food donation off at Foodland, IDA, No Frills or Yummy Dog’s locations at the RONA off of Highway 62 or at the Paudash Lake Marina. The Community Cupboard is also at Millenium Park every Wednesday collecting donations during the Mineral Capital Concerts and hosts their own concert series every Thursday starting at noon.