Door-to-door collection held on Feb. 23
By Mike Pearson, News staff
After consolidating its services in the heart of the lower city, Mission Services is helping more people access nutrition, counseling and career training programs.
While the new Wentworth Street North Opportunities Centre has already proven to be a big success, the need is still growing. Mission Services provides food to about 700 residents each month from, up about 35 per cent from last year.
Each month, Mission Services receives about 17,000 pounds of food from Hamilton Food Share, an umbrella organization that distributes food to Hamilton food banks.
“Our food supplies are taking a good hit because we’re giving out more frequently,” said Victor Cyr, Mission Services’ director of community services.
Mission Services is just one of eight social service providers that rely on the Ancaster Community Food Drive to replenish supplies between Christmas and Easter.
The 21st annual food drive is set for Feb. 23 with a door-to-door collection covering 12,000 Ancaster households.
Along with growing demand, many Hamilton food banks were hit by a poor growing season that limited the amount of fresh produce farmers donated to food banks. Mission Services, which spends about $10,000 each year on bulk foods, bridged the gap by purchasing bulk foods such as beans and lentils.
Jeremy Young, manager of social services for St. Matthew’s House, said some of the most urgently needed food items include canned meats and fish and protein-rich vegetables. St. Matthew’s House helps 2,200 people in 1,000 Hamilton households each month.
Andrea Buttars, volunteer coordinator at Wesley Urban Ministries, is experiencing increased demand at many of the organization’s 30 program sites. Wesley operates the city’s only seven-day a week day program supporting homeless or marginally housed, street-involved or at-risk men and women.
“We’re seeing 200 per day coming for lunch at our day program,” said Buttars.
Volunteers are already preparing space for this year’s anticipated donations from the Ancaster food drive.
“We’re really grateful that the people in Ancaster are sharing their resources with us,” said Buttars.
While it has seldom been an issue for the Ancaster food drive, donors are asked to check the expiration dates on donated items. Expired items cannot be used and must be disposed of at the agencies’ expense.
Along with Hamilton’s urban core, Ancaster Community Services is experiencing increased demand for food assistance and other supports. Last year the organization experienced a 25 per cent increase in requests from the community. During the holiday season, the ACS Christmas Outreach program saw a 34 per cent increase in demand. ACS receives cash donations each year from the Ancaster food drive.
Last year’s food campaign netted 36,000 tonnes (81,000 pounds) of food, pushing the 20-year total beyond the 1-million pound mark.
Along with the door-to-door collection, elementary and secondary schools in Ancaster traditionally rake in more than 10,000 pounds of donations for the annual food drive.
Bob Mullen, a member of the food drive’s coordinating committee, said some pick-up routes still require volunteers. Flyers advertising the food drive will be delivered to homes this Friday. Along with drivers, the food drive also requires helpers to load and sort donations at St. John’s parish hall on the day of the event. Volunteers are needed for two shifts on Feb. 23 to collect food door-to-door and sort donations. Shifts run from 9 a.m. to noon and noon to 3 p.m.
Other agencies that benefit from the food drive include Neighbour to Neighbour Centre, Hamilton Food Share, The Salvation Army and Good Shepherd Centre.
To volunteer, contact Ancaster Community Services at 905-648-6675 or email firstname.lastname@example.org .
For those planning a vacation during the food drive, donations can be made at either of Ancaster’s two fire stations.