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Community

Stocking the Cupboard with food & Care The Caring Cupboard Food Bank located in St. Thomas was started in 1986 by concerned citizens who wanted to help ensure people didn’t go hungry during a time of recession and high unemployment. It was one of many food banks started across Canada during the 80s, designed to be a temporary measure. However, almost three decades later, the need has remained and the Caring Cupboard continues to offer supplemental food support to lowincome families and individuals in Elgin County.

© Brenda Carson / fotolia.com

Karen McDade, who started as General Manager of Caring Cupboard in May 2014, chatted recently about the behind-the-scenes operation of the food bank. Organization of the grocery supplies involves many volunteer hours a month, and takes up much of the physical space of the Caring Cupboard, so Karen starts with a walk-about of the storage area. Availability of a loading dock and the conveyor belt from the former LCBO St. Thomas location helps with handling large deliveries. Along with individual and food drive donations throughout the year, a large proportion of the food is donated through hampers at grocery stores in five locations which are picked up by a volunteer. Cash and gift card donations are used to supplement those. Says Karen, “We have one volunteer who is a coupon shopper extraordinaire!”

Having been in the community for almost thirty years, the Caring Cupboard has gained a fairly high level of community awareness. Karen notes, “People do think of donating, especially at Christmas time. More and more, people request donations in lieu of gifts at special anniversaries and birthdays. I received one call from a woman who was getting married—it was a second marriage for both and since they didn’t need gifts or money they were planning to request gifts of non-perishable items for the Caring Cupboard. She wondered if we would pick up the donations after their reception at the Wayside Inn. Luckily we had just gotten our new food bank van—it was filled to capacity with food, plus we also received many grocery gift cards, cheques and cash in excess of $1,000!” Along with the manager and a part-time employee on client pick-up days, approximately seventy volunteers look after a multitude of behind-the-scenes tasks including grocery pick-up, date checking, sorting, shelving, rotating and re-packaging bulk items into smaller units. Extras are often creatively

Karen is enthusiastic about being able to offer fresh produce to clients. “Farms often donate items like apples and potatoes in bulk—I don’t ever turn those down, though sometimes it takes some managing to ensure it’s used before it spoils. Recent introduction of a farm tax credit in a simpler format has been helpful.” A line-up of fridges and freezers provides storage for eggs, milk and meat which she orders as needed.

RELISH ELGIN HOLIDAY 2014

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Profile for Joanne Bagshaw

Relish Elgin Holiday 2014  

Relish Elgin magazine promotes the people, places, businesses and events that make Elgin County & St. Thomas, Ontario unique.

Relish Elgin Holiday 2014  

Relish Elgin magazine promotes the people, places, businesses and events that make Elgin County & St. Thomas, Ontario unique.

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