Ancaster Community Services’ Food Assistance Program struggles to meet rising demand

News Jul 24, 2015 Ancaster News

Food banks throughout the city face challenges to keep their shelves stocked during the summer months, and Ancaster Community Services’ Food Assistance Program is no exception.

When school is out and families take vacations, support drops off, said ACS community outreach worker Alethea Ouzas.

“People seem to forget that there is a need throughout the year and not just at holiday times, such as Easter, Thanksgiving and Christmas,” she said.

The ACS Food Assistance Program is further challenged by the perception that Ancaster is a community of affluence.

“There are issues right here, right now in our own community,” Ouzas said. “Yes, Ancaster is an affluent community, but there are pockets of poverty and people who are genuinely in need.”

A community outreach worker for the past four years, Ouzas, said food insecurity has no time line and no geographical boundaries.

“I see it all the time, where family dynamics may change — job loss, death of a spouse, acute or chronic health conditions, even having older parents move into a family’s home can cause a socio-economic strain that some families cannot adapt to.” she said.

“I also see families working several jobs just to make ends meet. For some, this is temporary but for others, it is not.”

This year alone, the Food Assistance Program at ACS has served 822 residents, including single parents with children, seniors and families.

Ouzas said the numbers may not seem large in comparison to other bigger agencies in the Hamilton area, but ACS is a small community-based agency that offers personal, dignified, one-on-one support.

In addition to distributing non-perishable food, ACS has a monthly Good Food Box program that offers fresh fruits and vegetables, and a weekly Bread Box program, where people can pick up a variety of baked goods. ACS is also one of a few organizations that offers grocery gift cards.

“We try to meet the dietary and cultural needs of those accessing our services, but because we are small and our donations and space are limited, it becomes a challenge,” said Ouzas.

“With these grocery cards, people are able to buy milk, eggs, butter and meat to help sustain the dietary needs of their families. Even those with severe food allergies are able to buy safe, healthy food.”

Some non-perishable items that are particularly needed are gluten-free foods, canned goods, including various meats, vegetables and canned whole fruits, rice, hot and cold cereals, ready-to-eat and condensed soups, canned lentils and beans, pasta sauce, nut butters and toiletries like toilet paper, tissues and toothbrushes.

Items can be donated in person at 300 Wilson St. E., Ancaster, on the lower floor of the Ancaster library building, or every Wednesday until mid-October at the Ancaster Farmers Market, where donors will receive a $5 voucher redeemable at any market vendor in return for their donation.

For more information, visit the ACS website at www.ancastercommunityservices.ca, call Ouzas at 905-648-6675 or email at aouzas@hpl.ca.

Ancaster Community Services’ Food Assistance Program struggles to meet rising demand

News Jul 24, 2015 Ancaster News

Food banks throughout the city face challenges to keep their shelves stocked during the summer months, and Ancaster Community Services’ Food Assistance Program is no exception.

When school is out and families take vacations, support drops off, said ACS community outreach worker Alethea Ouzas.

“People seem to forget that there is a need throughout the year and not just at holiday times, such as Easter, Thanksgiving and Christmas,” she said.

The ACS Food Assistance Program is further challenged by the perception that Ancaster is a community of affluence.

“There are issues right here, right now in our own community. Yes, Ancaster is an affluent community, but there are pockets of poverty and people who are genuinely in need.”

“There are issues right here, right now in our own community,” Ouzas said. “Yes, Ancaster is an affluent community, but there are pockets of poverty and people who are genuinely in need.”

A community outreach worker for the past four years, Ouzas, said food insecurity has no time line and no geographical boundaries.

“I see it all the time, where family dynamics may change — job loss, death of a spouse, acute or chronic health conditions, even having older parents move into a family’s home can cause a socio-economic strain that some families cannot adapt to.” she said.

“I also see families working several jobs just to make ends meet. For some, this is temporary but for others, it is not.”

This year alone, the Food Assistance Program at ACS has served 822 residents, including single parents with children, seniors and families.

Ouzas said the numbers may not seem large in comparison to other bigger agencies in the Hamilton area, but ACS is a small community-based agency that offers personal, dignified, one-on-one support.

In addition to distributing non-perishable food, ACS has a monthly Good Food Box program that offers fresh fruits and vegetables, and a weekly Bread Box program, where people can pick up a variety of baked goods. ACS is also one of a few organizations that offers grocery gift cards.

“We try to meet the dietary and cultural needs of those accessing our services, but because we are small and our donations and space are limited, it becomes a challenge,” said Ouzas.

“With these grocery cards, people are able to buy milk, eggs, butter and meat to help sustain the dietary needs of their families. Even those with severe food allergies are able to buy safe, healthy food.”

Some non-perishable items that are particularly needed are gluten-free foods, canned goods, including various meats, vegetables and canned whole fruits, rice, hot and cold cereals, ready-to-eat and condensed soups, canned lentils and beans, pasta sauce, nut butters and toiletries like toilet paper, tissues and toothbrushes.

Items can be donated in person at 300 Wilson St. E., Ancaster, on the lower floor of the Ancaster library building, or every Wednesday until mid-October at the Ancaster Farmers Market, where donors will receive a $5 voucher redeemable at any market vendor in return for their donation.

For more information, visit the ACS website at www.ancastercommunityservices.ca, call Ouzas at 905-648-6675 or email at aouzas@hpl.ca.

Ancaster Community Services’ Food Assistance Program struggles to meet rising demand

News Jul 24, 2015 Ancaster News

Food banks throughout the city face challenges to keep their shelves stocked during the summer months, and Ancaster Community Services’ Food Assistance Program is no exception.

When school is out and families take vacations, support drops off, said ACS community outreach worker Alethea Ouzas.

“People seem to forget that there is a need throughout the year and not just at holiday times, such as Easter, Thanksgiving and Christmas,” she said.

The ACS Food Assistance Program is further challenged by the perception that Ancaster is a community of affluence.

“There are issues right here, right now in our own community. Yes, Ancaster is an affluent community, but there are pockets of poverty and people who are genuinely in need.”

“There are issues right here, right now in our own community,” Ouzas said. “Yes, Ancaster is an affluent community, but there are pockets of poverty and people who are genuinely in need.”

A community outreach worker for the past four years, Ouzas, said food insecurity has no time line and no geographical boundaries.

“I see it all the time, where family dynamics may change — job loss, death of a spouse, acute or chronic health conditions, even having older parents move into a family’s home can cause a socio-economic strain that some families cannot adapt to.” she said.

“I also see families working several jobs just to make ends meet. For some, this is temporary but for others, it is not.”

This year alone, the Food Assistance Program at ACS has served 822 residents, including single parents with children, seniors and families.

Ouzas said the numbers may not seem large in comparison to other bigger agencies in the Hamilton area, but ACS is a small community-based agency that offers personal, dignified, one-on-one support.

In addition to distributing non-perishable food, ACS has a monthly Good Food Box program that offers fresh fruits and vegetables, and a weekly Bread Box program, where people can pick up a variety of baked goods. ACS is also one of a few organizations that offers grocery gift cards.

“We try to meet the dietary and cultural needs of those accessing our services, but because we are small and our donations and space are limited, it becomes a challenge,” said Ouzas.

“With these grocery cards, people are able to buy milk, eggs, butter and meat to help sustain the dietary needs of their families. Even those with severe food allergies are able to buy safe, healthy food.”

Some non-perishable items that are particularly needed are gluten-free foods, canned goods, including various meats, vegetables and canned whole fruits, rice, hot and cold cereals, ready-to-eat and condensed soups, canned lentils and beans, pasta sauce, nut butters and toiletries like toilet paper, tissues and toothbrushes.

Items can be donated in person at 300 Wilson St. E., Ancaster, on the lower floor of the Ancaster library building, or every Wednesday until mid-October at the Ancaster Farmers Market, where donors will receive a $5 voucher redeemable at any market vendor in return for their donation.

For more information, visit the ACS website at www.ancastercommunityservices.ca, call Ouzas at 905-648-6675 or email at aouzas@hpl.ca.