As you enter the Sacred Heart Family Aid Centre in Marystown, the first thing you notice are the racks of clothing.
Tucked off to the immediate right, however, there’s another small room. Its shelves are filled to the ceiling with food.
The organization’s food bank is looking a bit different these days, more modern.
With the wind kicking up a storm outside, Patrick Power dutifully showed the new additions to the tiny, but critically important, space to The Southern Gazette on Thursday, Nov. 15.
There’s a stainless-steel work table, cart and desk, as well as a commercial safety ladder thanks to a donation from Canadian Tire.
A capacity boost grant from Food Bank Canada and the Walmart Foundation was used to purchase two new stand-up freezers, a cooler and a commercial floor scale.
The upright freezers will make it easier on the food bank’s volunteers, many of whom are older, says Nora Gaulton, chair of the Sacred Heart Family Aid Committee.
With the scale, starting in January, the food bank will begin measuring the amount of food it takes in and distributes by weight for the first time.
“It was great to see it done,” Gaulton said of the improvements in a recent phone interview.
A fair bit of food has gone out over the last year, according to Gaulton, with usage up significantly.
“Where onetime some weeks you did five or six (requests for food), you can have now 20 and 25 a week. So, you know, it’s quite an increase,” she said.
As is most often the case when the economy is bad, more people turn to the food bank, Gaulton says. The Sacred Heart Family Aid Centre also helps with heat and light, oil, medical assistance and other expenses if people need it.
“This year has been a very hard year on the Burin Peninsula, nothing light about it,” Gaulton says. “Look around you, I mean there’s nobody working. JCPs (government-funded Job Creation Partnerships projects) is the most that’s keeping everything going.”
There is some concern about people misusing the food bank, not only for emergencies as it is intended, but as a monthly income supplement. The organization recently changed the message on its phone line to try to help people understand that.
Gaulton says typically people can come for food once a month, but it really depends on each situation.
“Every circumstance is different, there’s no two people alike, and it’s based on that,” she says.
There’s also a considerable amount of food and monetary donations coming in from the community these days.
Thanks to the Community Food Sharing Association and local businesses such as Kentucky Fried Chicken, Walmart, Sobeys and Nofrills, food is continuously being donated.
“They’re all good. I mean, it’s great what they give us. Without it, I think all food banks would be in dire straits,” Gaulton said.
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