By Charlie Senack, Barrhaven Independent
As the Barrhaven Food Cupboard sees a bigger need than ever for support, one local school raised over 2,000 canned goods for the local organization.
From February 28 to March 10, students from Monsignor Paul Baxter Elementary School in Barrhaven collected cans of soup, tomato sauce, and other non-perishables for the Barrhaven Food Cupboard. It’s the first time in two years an initiative of this kind could take place, as COVID-19 meant an end to most fundraising drives.
“Our goal was to collect 1,000 items, but our students went above and beyond. We ended up doubling our goal at just over 2000 items,” said Sean Haughian, a grade 2 teacher at the school. “The top two classes in Primary and top two in Junior are also receiving a pizza lunch for their class.”
This was the 13th annual canned food drive Monsignor Paul Baxter has held for the Barrhaven Food Cupboard.
“We know the need is always great throughout the year, and we wanted to not just contribute at Christmas and Easter,” Haughian said. “Our grade 2’s would collect the items each day from outside the classrooms and then help sort them out into boxes. They were very excited to not only help organize but also knew they were helping those needing assistance. They did a fantastic job and my hope is that they will carry this forward in their lives helping others whenever they can. I’m very proud of my class as well as everyone who helped contribute from our school.”
For the students, it was an opportunity to help families just like themselves who may have landed in hard times during the pandemic.
“I know a lot of kids are starting,” said grade 2 Monsignor Paul Baxter student Jordan. “I eat three times a day and I wanted to give them more food so they could survive. It made me feel really happy because we got to donate to people who really needed our help.”
“There are poor people and I don’t want them to be starving all day long, so I wanted to help them survive,” echoed fellow grade 2 student Esmeralda. “I like to be kind and I like to share.”
“I like helping others by being kind,” noted classmate Nita, also in grade 2. “Sometimes I see people around the world who are struggling and I feel sad about that. Poor people don’t have a lot of things and as a kid, I want to help them survive.”
In Dec, 2021, the Barrhaven Food Cupboard said they have seen a 12 per cent increase in calls for assistance since the pandemic began two years ago. That number is expected to only grow higher as food prices in some cases are almost doubling, and others are finding it difficult to get back on their feet after the pandemic.
Early this year, the food organization had to purchase a new fridge to keep up with the demand.
“The increasing demand for food support in Barrhaven is placing increasing demands on Barrhaven Food Cupboard,” the orgs oration said in a recent Facebook post. “We have recently purchased a second commercial fridge to meet demand at a cost of $5,300. We acted quickly to secure a great price but are now looking for donations to help cover the cost and the growing costs of feeding the members of our community who need it most.”
Barrhaven Food Cupboard President George MacDonald said before the pandemic hit, many of their physical food donations came from school and business drives. Two years of COVID-19 meant an end to this, but it’s starting to make a comeback.
“Normally in the course of a year we would have a number of physical food donations given to us — a lot from school drives, businesses, individuals who collect food for us,” he said. ‘In 2021 not as much because of school closures and virtual learning. We had to purchase quite a bit of food which we would not normally do.”
Anyone who wishes to donate to the Barrhaven Food Cupboard can make a financial donation online, or drop food items off in bins located at most local grocery stores.