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Your Local Food Bank Needs More than Food

October 22, 2016

Published in the July issue of Bluffs Monitor

According to the Daily Bread Food Bank’s 2015 “Who’s Hungry” report, demand for food at Toronto food banks has risen 12% since 2008.  They attribute this to precarious work, eroding social assistance rates and rapidly rising costs of living.  Food insecurity affects many people in our own neighbourhoods.  A statistic from bluffsfoodbank.com states “In Birch Cliff, losing a job or a disability made up more than half of food bank users and more than 60% of people give up a meal to pay for costs related to housing each month.”

Churches by the Bluffs Food Bank or The Bluffs Food Bank as they now like to call themselves, has grown from providing for 26 people in 2003 to now servicing up to 300 families or 500 individuals every week.  This 100% volunteer run organization puts approximately 26,000 meals on the table every year.

Five area churches, Birchcliff Bluffs United, Fallingbrook Heights Baptist, Fallingbrook Presbyterian, Scarborough Baptist and St. Nicholas Anglican came together to form this non-profit, registered charitable organization with one unified goal:  To end hunger in Birch Cliff.  Many local businesses, schools and individuals donate to, support and otherwise contribute to the success of this essential community service.

We met with Gail Barkic, Volunteer Grocery Manager at the Bluffs Food Bank to find out what the community can do to help, and what donations they are in need of.  About a dozen volunteers were diligently unpacking, separating, sorting and storing the day’s delivery of donations as we walked through the facility.  Volunteers who were separating flats of eggs into individual and family portions told us that they often have to cut the flats, use a piece top and bottom, then secure it with elastic bands.  Not only does that add significantly to their workload, but it is also a less secure means of transporting eggs home for their clients.

The Food Bank would welcome donations of egg cartons, stacked in the open position.  Egg cartons can be bagged and dropped off at 33 East Road on Wednesdays between 8 am – 2 pm or Thursdays from 8 am – 12 pm.  Outside of these hours, please leave donations near the door in the covered area.

Also in high demand is baby food, cereal and formula.  All donations are gratefully accepted, though they do prefer to buy diapers from cash donations to better meet the needs of current clients.

Gail says that they “always need more volunteers”.  With a grocery program, a meal program, clothing boutique and a tax clinic to run, it’s no wonder. 

Their service area extends from Victoria Park Avenue to Midland Avenue, from St. Clair Avenue south to Lake Ontario.  The food bank is physically located in the basement of Birchcliff Bluffs United Church at 33 East Road.  Visit their website www.bluffsfoodbank.com for more information, to find out how you can volunteer, or make a donation online.

For readers living outside of the Bluffs Food Bank’s service area wishing to donate, volunteer, or needing assistance, please contact the Daily Bread Food Bank at 416-203-0050 or one of these other food banks serving our circulation area.  St Georges Anglican Church Food Bank - 416-267-3962.  The Red Cross operates The Scarborough Drop-In, Food Bank - 416-267-0115.  The Scarborough Centre for Healthy communities operates a Food Bank - 416-847-4147.

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