Even though there is still a need, those in Centre Wellington who run free community pantries have recently noticed a drop in donations.
A social media appeal for donations was made by Stacey Bird, who runs a small free pantry out of her home at 200 Tait Cres. in Fergus as a member of the 519 Community Collective, after noticing a pattern of the pantry being empty on occasion over the summer.
The price of food has undoubtedly increased, as has the expense of living generally. since of this, Bird believes it is safe to assume that charity giving has decreased overall since individuals simply don't have the extra money at this time.
Since starting the modest free pantry in May 2021 as a method to offer an accessible and anonymous food program to supplement already existing services in the community, she claimed she hasn't seen this occur.
Bird initially became aware of this reduction in the spring, and as a result, she got inventive and posted an Amazon wishlist to her Facebook group, which was successful in attracting donations for about two weeks.
We received all kinds of mail at the house, but Bird noted that it eventually tapered off. Probably in May or June of this year, I began to feel a little worried.
This decline in donations at small food pantries is a general trend, not just at Bird's.
At her residence on 121 East Mill St. in Elora, Tina Buckton opened one about the same time as Bird. She reported that donations had decreased during the winter and that there had been an increase in donations of outdated food.
In addition to having to buy food for it, Buckton noted, "I also have to go through it and throw food away."
Like Bird, she thought that most individuals struggle with shopping expenses, which limit their ability to donate. Yet, according to Buckton, there is still a need for this service.
"I see people come by once a day at least, and a lot of the time they have to leave with nothing," said Buckton.
Although donations to the Centre Wellington Food Bank have decreased during the summer, the manager does not anticipate that this will become a trend.
The CW Food Bank manager, Curt McQueen, said he hasn't been in the position for a full year and is unsure of the ebbs and flows of donations, but generally speaking, donations of non-perishable goods have been fewer.
"I would say there are fewer food drives, there aren't as many initiatives like that happening in the community for donations to come into the food bank," said McQueen.
Although he emphasized that the food bank remained well supported over the summer, McQueen anticipates donations to start trickling back in as people return from their summer vacations and the holiday season approaches.
Bird first refrained from making a donation request because she believed that everyone was currently feeling the effects of inflation. She did, however, receive a positive response to her message, and funds are now trickling in.
Overall, she doesn't regret starting a small free pantry because it has let her see how kind of a neighborhood she lives in.
The pantry's door was blown off by the wind twice, and both times, community members stepped forward and offered their services to restore it. "People have been respectful and supportive," Bird said. That was truly amazing, I must say.
As long as the things aren't damaged or expired, consumers can donate items straight to the pantry, according to Bird. Items can be left on the porch if the pantry is overflowing.
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