Caring approach remains the hallmark after 25 years of operation
Whitchurch-Stouffville volunteer Doug McIntyre and Food Bank co-ordinator Marion Wells stand in front of the neatly-ordered shelves in their new location at 86 Ringwood Drive in Stouffville.
Denise Casey offers caring support to clients in her special
space in the Food Bank.
Laura Volpe photos
By Hannelore Volpe
Stouffville Free Press
Twenty-five years after starting off as a temporary emergency measure, the Whitchurch-Stouffville Food Bank held its grand opening in its new west end Stouffville location January 19.
Getting to this stage took a lot of work and determination by Food Bank volunteers as well as the generosity of the owners of the side by side Ringwood Drive units that make up the new facility – Smileville Dental and SMC Project Realization and Management. Many local individuals, businesses, corporations and the Mayors Community Fund also helped financially or in kind.
Volunteer Doug McIntyre, who, tongue-in-cheek, calls himself the production manager, worked closely with the contractor during the roughly $30,000 renovation of the two units.
One side of the enhanced operation is for distribution, while the other is for storage where amply and neatly stacked foods are carefully indexed according to expiry date. Freezers hold meat, fridges are filled with fresh yogurt and eggs, and there is almost everything else that a family could need.
But Food Bank co-ordinator Marion Wells is quick to note the high turnover rate of the supply. “What is in storage now will be gone by the summer,” she said, adding that the Christmas season always sees a spike in donations from schools, churches and community organizations. “Children sometimes ask for donations to the Food Bank instead of birthday gifts for their birthday parties.”
The Food Bank was originally set up in 1992 as a community mission of Churchill Community Church in Ballantrae. “The Food Bank is very grateful to the Church,” said Ms. Wells. She noted that it continues to be staffed by dedicated volunteers who give their heart and soul to the project. “(Board member) Joan Doble, a member of the church, is our longest-serving volunteer, almost right from the start.”
Approximately 80 families rely on the Food Bank each month. Clients are greeted by a friendly-looking reception area and friendly faces. They receive a form where they can tick off the things they need for the next three days. Volunteers assemble the food for them to put in their bags or boxes.
But there is also a little space that affords some degree of privacy, with a small selection of goods that clients can choose for themselves. This area is under the purview of Denise Casey, one of five regular Food Bank volunteers. She uses it as a place to comfort single moms or recent widows and others in distressing circumstances. Tears are shed and emotions released. She might give them a small gift to take home. “It is these things that make us special and different from the other food banks,” she said.
Ms. Casey said she will always make sure clients have someone to talk to when they come for their much needed food supplies. “We are not going to lose the personal touch of the Food Bank if it kills me”.
Ms Wells lauds her community, noting that the Food Bank has never had to rely on the Town or government. “If you live in a community that cares, I think it is so valuable.”
The Whitchurch-Stouffville Food Bank is located at 86 Ringwood Dr., Unit 25. It is open Wednesdays from 9 a.m. to noon for clients.
Check out www.wsfoodbank.ca or call 905-640-4704 or 905-3640.