By Charlie Senack
The Barrhaven Food Cupboard has seen a 12 per cent increase in food orders since the COVID-19 pandemic began. But thanks to the generosity of the community, they have been able to keep up with the demand.
Operating out of the Walter Baker Centre, the Barrhaven Food Cupboard currently fulfills about 40 orders a week and feeds the mouths of roughly 600 people every month.
“We are fulfilling about 160 food orders a month, but under the pandemic restrictions we limit the number of people and volunteers in the facility, said Barrhaven Food Cupboard President George MacDonald. “Our clients now have to make an appointment and instead of selecting the food of the shelves themselves, we now have them go around with a volunteer who does it just to limit contact.”
One of the busiest times of the year for the food cupboard is around the Christmas season when they launch their annual hamper campaign. In 2019 they had 197 requests, a number which rose to 298 in 2020 with more people needing support.
Thanks to the generosity of the community, however, they were able to break even.
Because of COVID-19 restrictions, this year hampers were not handed out; instead gift cards from stores like Loblaws, Independent, and Shoppers Drug Mart were purchased for the clients to do their own shopping.
“Since the pandemic started you would think that people would be a little more Conservative with their financial donations but we have experienced exactly the opposite,” said MacDonald. “The level of donations we have received over the last six or eight months has blown us away. We have broken a bunch of expectations and records.”
One of those records was broken just last week when the Barrhaven Food Cupboard received their biggest donation by far.
Thanks to a campaign put on by Food Banks Canada in conjunction with Loblaws grocery chain, customers at both the Your Independent Grocer and Loblaws stores in Barrhaven were able to give a donation with their order during holiday seasons in 2020. The campaign ran for a few weeks at Easter, Thanksgiving and Christmas.
When the total was tallied up and the cheque was presented just last week, MacDonald admits he was blown away.
“We received a cheque a few days ago for $49,017. That is far and away the largest donation we have received from anybody,” he said. “The fact that companies like Loblaws do this in the first place is great. But what is really heartwarming is the fact that there are so many customers throughout those two stores that were willing to make a donation to us.”
“This is the kind of donation that will carry us and the food that we have to buy for months and it’s an incredible contribution,” MacDonald added.
All of that money will be directly invested back into the community to support families in Barrhaven who have fallen on hard times.
Since moving to their location at the Walter Baker Centre two years ago, the Barrhaven Food Cupboard has started to carry perishable items for their clients including milk, eggs and butter. Toiletries are also given out.
Anyone who wants to donate to the Barrhaven Food Cupboard can do so on their website at: Barrhavenfoodcupboard.ca. Food collection bins have also started popping up again at grocery stores in the community after being taken away for a while due to the pandemic. Cash donations however can go a further way because they are able to buy in bulk.
MacDonald also stresses the Barrhaven Food Cupboard is there to help anyone who has fallen on hard times. He says there should be no stigma attached to requesting support because it can happen to anyone. He also says all the volunteers are discreet and are just there to lend a helping hand.
Anyone who needs support can call the Barrhaven Food Cupboard at 613-825-4505 or email firstname.lastname@example.org.