Significant increase in London Food Bank usage; Thanksgiving drive launches with a call to action
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London Community News
By Mallory Clarkson/London Community News/Twitter: @MalloryClarkson
When the London Food Bank launched its 24th annual Thanksgiving Food Drive Thursday (Sept. 27), the organization’s co-director heralded a call to action for policy makers.
Glen Pearson said the organization saw a nearly 20 per cent increase so far this year compared to last. He said that’s a significant problem and it requires London residents to both give and think about what kind of community they want.
“Do we want this many poor among us and is there a way we can deal about it?” Pearson questioned.
While stressing local citizens and corporations have been very generous, he said the need is now exceeding the ability for those groups to supply. He added the answers to things like poverty and low income housing fall onto the shoulders of political and economic leaders.
“To continue to look to the public or corporations and say, ‘Because of our lack of leadership, we ask you to volunteer more,’ it’s ridiculous,” Pearson said. “So stop laying it on the lap of corporations or citizens and start coming forward as political and economic leaders and decide that you’re going to answer these problems so that we’re not beleaguering all of our people to death trying to answer problems that, in many ways, can only be solved at a higher level.”
Jane Roy, the other co-director of the London Food Bank, said nearly 55,000 pounds of food was collected last year. She added while more people are using the service this year, donations have increase, too.
The average number of visits to the food bank is 39.5 per cent higher than in 2008 and the busiest month in the London Food Bank’s history was August, where 3,840 families went to the site for help.
Roy said she finds the community gives more when its residents are struggling.
“I think a lot of that has to do with the fact that people when it’s a tough time and they know others are going through tough times, so they’re actually giving more,” she said. “We all know people who have lost jobs, so we give a little bit more.”
Many people who are now using the food bank were gainfully employed last year, Pearson said, using former Electro-Motive Diesel and Ford Talbotville employees as an example.
“We see these people every week,” Pearson said. “The fact that two or three years ago, they were busy caring for people in their community and holding food drives and now they’ve having to come here, it’s humiliating for them.
“We as a community should not have to put them through that if there’s another way to deal with it.”
The Thanksgiving Food Drive runs from Friday (Sept. 28) until Thanksgiving Monday (Oct. 8). Food can be dropped off at most grocery stores in the London area.
While the food bank is looking for any type of non-perishable items, baby formula and food, diapers, canned meat, fish, vegetables and pasta are particularly needed.