Central location, ever increasing donations and dedicated volunteers enable facility to accommodate increased need
Whitchurch-Stouffville Food Bank Chair Anand Daté stands amid the well stocked shelves and coolers in the Ringwood Drive facility.
Bruce Stapley Photo
By Bruce Stapley
After a year spent adjusting to its new digs, the Whitchurch-Stouffville Food Bank is now much better able to look after the nutritional needs of area residents who have fallen on hard times.
The relocation to a refurbished two unit facility on Ringwood Drive in Stouffville’s west end in December of 2016 has enabled the Food Bank and its clients to enjoy a better laid out, more accessible premises with an ever increasing supply of quality prepared and fresh food.
Yet one thing has remained the same since the Food Bank first opened in 1990.”
“Everyone who comes here for food is treated with respect and dignity, our volunteers are caring and warm, they give out hugs and support along with food,” said Food Bank Chair Anand Daté.
Mr. Date, who took over from long time Food Bank fixture Marion Wells last April, said an initial lull that greeted the food outlet when it reopened in its new location in December 2016 was short lived. “We knew there would be a transition time as some people were unaware we were here. This past December we had our largest number of clients ever,”
Fortunately the supply was equal to the demand, although the onslaught of contributions presented an organizational challenge to the 30 volunteers whose job it is to pick up, purchase, categorize, sort and allocate the food on Wednesdays mornings when their clients arrive. “We were really unprepared for all the food and cash donations for Christmas,” said Mr. Daté.
He credits the groups, individuals, businesses, churches and schools of Whitchurch-Stouffville who give so generously to the Food Bank with its ongoing success. “We are so thankful to all those who donate,” he said, adding that the quality of the food and the cash donations make it possible for the facility to offer a well balanced, complete diet. “We are very well stocked. We’re not just giving out beans and Kraft Dinner.
The facility also boasts a well appointed lounge for clients to wait while their food needs are being processed. Donated coffee and snacks are available and the walls are adorned with attractive pen and ink sketches provided at no cost by Joseph Chesham, the father-in-law of Food Bank volunteer Charlotte Chesham.
While volunteers and clients alike had to travel further and lug food up and down staircases in the Food Bank’s previous location in the basement of Churchill Baptist Church to the north of town, the new ground floor location has wheel chair access while being closer to the majority of the Town’s population. The site is a block away from GO Bus and Viva stops on Stouffville’s Main Street. In addition, Food Bank volunteers have a much shorter hop to the local grocery stores to purchase fresh food and stock up on specials.
Those who donate cash give the Food Bank a big advantage according to Mr. Daté, starting with how the stores offer them discounts so that the money donated goes further. “It’s so important to be able to give out fresh food.” Vegetables, eggs, dairy products, fresh and frozen meats are all available.
Looking ahead, Mr. Daté said part of his job as Chair is to help identify usage trends. “We are aware we have had an increase in demand as our first year in the new location closed out. We’re going to be here as long as we’re needed.”