Six Nations Food Bank happy with donation response

Six Nations Food Bank Coordinator Tracy Martin is thrilled with the community’s response. (Photo by Jim C. Powless)

By Lisa Iesse
Writer

Six Nations Food Bank Coordinator Tracy Martin prepares donation packages in advance. (Photo by Jim C. Powless)

Six Nations Food Bank Coordinator Tracy Martin prepares donation packages in advance. (Photo by Jim C. Powless)

SIX NATIONS OF THE GRAND – Over the holiday season, the Six Nations Food Bank overflowed with donations and support beyond the expectations of its staff.
Mary Monture, Six Nations Food Bank’s Chair of the Board, said the Food Bank’s collection was a welcome surprise, “much better than expected, because expectations were very low. It was overwhelming. In the three years that we’ve been at the current location, we’ve never seen a Christmas like the one we just had, as far as volunteers and donations are concerned. It was amazing.”
Monture said that the donations were significant, enough to ensure their operations for the coming year. A tally of the donations was not yet available, but a report is to follow.
Six Nations Food Bank Coordinator Tracy Martin praised the community’s enthusiasm as “just awesome.”
“It was heartwarming to see the community come together.” Martin said.
She said it was overwhelming to witness the turnout, everyone from the individual volunteers who continued to show up week after week, to the collective efforts of local and far away organizations.
Community members and businesses from on and off Six Nations filled bags, and filled the pantry shelves. Many turned out not just locally but also came from far distances with donations of food and monetary donations also.
Even as winter storms repeatedly hit the region, the Six Nations Food Bank was one of the few services that remained open over the holiday season. Martin noted that although Thursday December 22 and the Thursday before New Year’s Eve saw very bad weather, turnout was substantial.
“With the donations that we have coming in and on-hand, we are pretty well stocked but that doesn’t mean to stop donating,” she said.
Montour emphasized donations are need on an ongoing basis, “We always need food [donations], no matter what it is.”
However, Montour cautioned anyone donating to be mindful of food expiry dates, “If people are going to donate food, they need to look at expiry dates because we do not accept expired food nor do we hand it out.”
Martin also explained that baby items such as diapers which often run low during the rest of the year are also items needed by people using the Food Bank.
The Six Nations Food Bank operates through donations and approved proposals for funding to Economic Development or the Community Trust. Monture was happy to announce the food bank was also recently successfully in getting funding through the Community Trust.
The Six Nations Food Bank receives calls everyday, a lot of response and help from individuals “Whether it be summer, spring, winter, or fall, food is always needed no matter what type. Fresh vegetables are always welcomed. I know they are very costly and very hard to get.”
Everyone needs help at this time she said.
“It ranges from youth to elders and so on. Everybody’s circumstances are different. The way that things are going today, unexpected job loss, unexpected financial concerns, the cost of food, the cost of gas, having to pay more for less, raising a family…nothing is easy anymore.”
“Everybody’s circumstances are different. People get a new job, they buy a new car, a new house. Then they may lose their job for whatever reason. You have relationships that break up. You have grandparents raising grandchildren due to unforeseen circumstances. You have elders living on old age pensions, on one cheque, having to pay rent and pay bills, then what’s left for food? Any time of the year those things can happen.”
Six Nations Food Bank services are available to anyone who lives in Six Nations and has a status card. They are invited to come to the Food Bank on Thursdays for Food Services between 9 a.m. to 12 p.m. and between 1 p.m. to 4:30 p.m. They are asked to bring status cards for every member of their family and are asked to fill out a registration form which determines the size of the prepared food bag that they will get. They will receive milk, bread, eggs, and whatever else the Food Bank has available to provide on that particular day.
Monture said that demand has definitely increased substantially in the past three years.
“When we moved to our current location on 20 Cao Lane in December of 2019, we serviced approximately 40 – 50 visitors per week on a Food Service day, which is Thursday. Now, it’s sixfold. We are seeing up to over 300 visitors per week at times depending. We’ve seen a huge demand for services from the Food Bank.”
Although the holiday season brought a multitude of volunteers, those numbers have been dwindling she explained,. Volunteers are urgently needed right now. We did really well during Christmas but our volunteer list has shortened considerably now, but hunger doesn’t take a break. We are always going to be open for our Food Service Day but in order to do that we are going to need volunteers to help us prepare for those days.
“We need volunteers on Monday, Tuesday, Wednesdays to prepare for Food Services which is Thursday and that can be anything from unloading food when it comes in, stocking shelves, breaking up boxes, preparing food bags, and getting everything ready for Thursdays.”
Monture invites anybody who would like to volunteer to phone
519-771-0025 to get in touch with the Six Nations Food Bank, “The more hands the better.”
The Six Nations Food Bank will host fundraising events again soon.
“We hope to have a golf tournament in the summer, which will be our second one. We had one last year and hope to have another this coming year.
We are also looking at having a Euchre tournament some time the S
spring. We use do those things prior to COVID-19, and we are just now starting to look at ways we can fundraise. Those are things we have in the works right now,” said Monture.
For updates, folks can visit the Six Nations Food Bank website http://www.sixnationsfoodbank.com.

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