The Canora Wheatland Lioness Club made a donation of $500, which was raised at the Picnic in the Park held at King George Park in July, to Filling the Gap Foodbank in Canora on September 27.
Pastor Mavis Watson, who runs the Food Bank, said this donation would contribute toward about seven or eight hampers, depending on the size of the family.
“I’m very excited and happy,” said Watson. “Along with the recent Co-op barbecue and the food drive conducted by the Canora air cadets together with the Canora and District Fire Department, all of these contributions will go a long way toward meeting our needs.”
Watson said her goal is to raise another $5,000 to $7,000 between now and Christmas, which would be enough for approximately 40 hampers, and have some money left over for January.
“The Christmas hampers aren’t just for Christmas dinner,” she said. “It includes a week’s worth of food. And in early January, many people find themselves in need of assistance because they’ve spent all their money on Christmas.”
Watson said prospects have improved noticeably at the Food Bank since the decision was made to suspend operations for about a five-week period in late summer.
“Being closed for that time period allowed us to accumulate a number of items, plus it really seemed to stimulate people to give,” said Watson.
She said recent contributions have reinforced her belief that people in Canora and the surrounding region are generous, but, “we just need to remind them sometimes that we are in need.”
It can be quite common to have six to eight hamper requests per week during busier times.
The Food Bank is always eager to accept cash donations, since it can be used to purchase whatever is needed at the time.
Watson said depending on the family size, a single hamper can cost up to $250.
“Donated funds are very much appreciated and I always try to use the money wisely,” she said.
She said hamburger meat is welcome, as long as it is professionally wrapped and dated to indicate how old it is.
Canned meat, pork and beans and other protein-based foods are in demand.
But she discouraged the contribution of exotic foods, simply because often people “won’t eat what they don’t know.”
Well-known foods such as Kraft Dinners, Hamburger Helper and various cookies are welcome. But Watson said it’s important to check the dates on contributed food to make sure that it’s still good.
She “eagerly accepts” root vegetables such as potatoes, onions and carrots from gardens at this time of year. But she tries to stay away from garden produce that grows above the ground, since it tends to go bad relatively quickly.
Other items such as coffee, toilet paper, toothpaste and shampoo are always in demand.
Watson said that recently a large portion of hamper requests are coming from newcomers to the Canora area. She said much of this need has resulted from cutbacks in various parts of the economy, especially the energy sector.
“As a pastor, I believe that it’s part of my job to feed the poor,” she said. “That’s why each and every contribution we get really matters.”