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Carbonear food bank struggling for donations

The St. Vincent de Paul food bank’s shelves were emptying quickly on Monday, Aug. 28. Kerri Abbott, right, chairs the volunteer board responsible for the food bank, and says it's been hard of late to keep up with demand.
The St. Vincent de Paul food bank’s shelves were emptying quickly on Monday, Aug. 28. Kerri Abbott, right, chairs the volunteer board responsible for the food bank, and says it's been hard of late to keep up with demand.

CARBONEAR, NL — The St. Vincent de Paul Food Bank in Carbonear has run into some difficulties as of late.

The food bank, located just off of Adelaide Street, serves over 100 households - hundreds of individuals - in the run of a month, but has had trouble keeping up with those numbers as food donations become less and less common.

On Monday, Aug. 28, photos were posted to Facebook showing a clear lack of food on the bank’s shelves. With daily visitors to the food bank, chairperson Kerri Abbott told The Compass that it can be disheartening, and that she’s had to turn people away in the past due to the bank lacking the foods people needed.

However, a lack of donations is not as simple as it may seem, according to Abbott. She explained that some more obscure foods, such as lime juice, may not be a top priority for those who come to the food bank.

“We’ll accept just about any kind of food,” Abbott said. “People need whatever they can get, at the end of the day. But sometimes we’ll get things that people don’t really know what to do with. Sometimes we’ll get a lot of those things, and then we’ve got a ton of one thing, but no soap, for example, which is something else people really need.”

Abbott also explained that sometimes people, without realizing it, provide the bank with foods that will soon be expired. Volunteers at the food bank are forced to throw the food out once it reaches its expiry date, resulting in even less food to fill the shelves.

However, neither of these things are the direct reason behind empty shelves. Abbott explained that donating food has become less affordable as other bare necessities become more expensive.

“Things are a lot more expensive these days. People have light bills, mortgages, and insurances to pay for, and at the end of the day, things just aren’t as affordable as they used to be,” Abbott said. “Food is becoming less important on people’s list of things to pay for, and people who may have been able to afford extra food to donate, no longer can, by no fault of their own.”

Abbott went on to note that the higher cost of living has resulted in more people relying on the food bank every month, which ultimately means what food they do get is not lasting as long as it once would.

“Recently, we’ve been seeing a lot more families come here that are working minimum wage jobs and things like that, who can no longer afford to buy groceries,” Abbott said. “Before, it was mostly people living on government assistance, you know? But nowadays, like I said, people have a lot to pay for, and food isn’t a top priority for them, unfortunately. It’s really sad to see, and makes me all the happier that we’re here to help these people.”

On Aug. 30, donations came in by the minute. The food that was donated will hopefully last the food bank approximately one month, according to chairperson Kerri Abbott.

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During The Compass’ visit to the food bank, shelves that had been empty only two days prior, were slowly starting to fill up again. Donations came in as time passed, and the volunteers found themselves getting busy. Before long, some of the shelves were nearly full again – something Abbott credited to the Facebook post made that past Monday.

“This, what we have here now, will likely last us around a month,” Abbott said, happy to see such a sudden change. “I think that proves that we need to do more to try and get our name out there. Right now, we’re just really busy, and since we have no paid staff – all volunteers – no one can really put in the time to do things like that, but we’re working on it. We need to, because we need to help these people as much as we can.”

chris.lewis@cbncompass.ca

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