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Tuesday, March 28, 2023
The cupboards are bare at NOTL food bank
Shelves are either empty or half full at Newark Neighbours food bank. Somer Slobodian

Newark Neighbours desperately seeking donations for Thanksgiving hampers


Thanksgiving is just around the corner and the shelves at the Newark Neighbours Food Bank are empty.

“Our need is high. Our shelves are literally bare,” says Cindy Grant, the chair of the board of Newark Neighbours.

Thanksgiving hampers will be distributed Thursday, Oct. 6, “so time is marching on. It’s only a couple of weeks away.”

The food bank has teamed up again this year with the Niagara-on-the-Lake Rotary Club for its Porch Pick-up Food Drive this Saturday.

But Newark desperately needs donations from the community for those pick-ups.

On Saturday between 10 a.m. and 4 p.m., teams of volunteers will visit homes all over NOTL to collect donations of non-perishable food – “basically, we need everything,” Grant said in an interview Monday.

“Literally, if you go to the grocery store and walk the aisles, it’s just about one of everything. We need everything at this point.”

For the 80 or more Thanksgiving hampers, the food bank needs items like stuffing mix, canned corn, cranberry sauce, canned items like green beans, corn, gravy, fruit and peas and more.

As well, “we provide clients with a choice of a turkey or ham, a bag each of potatoes, carrots and onions and a freshly made pie,” Grant said.

“These are either donated or we purchase them from local providers.”

On its website, newarkneighbours.ca, there is a full list of all the Thanksgiving and everyday items required. That list also appears in an advertisement in The Lake Report this week.

With the shortage of donations and stock dwindling, Newark has leaned on its volunteers and Rotary Club members over the past week to try to boost collections, and that is helping.

But more is needed.

“Our demand is growing,” Grant said.

“We’re up to 80 registered clients now, 80 families, which represents over 150 people, 40 of which are children” – and all residents of NOTL.

In affluent Niagara-on-the-Lake, that level of need shocks a lot of people.

“People are continually surprised to learn there’s that many families that are in need. But there are.”

And she suspects there are more.

“I don’t know this explicitly, but my gut says there’s more. There’s more families out there that need our help and they just haven’t come to us yet,” she said.

“We don’t go out looking for clients. We wait for them to come to us.”

With one to two new clients added every week, she is convinced there are others who need Newark’s help but just haven’t approached the agency yet.

Last Christmas the food bank was “literally overwhelmed” with an avalanche of food donations, and since then there has not been a need for a food drive.

Now, “we’re really counting on the community once again to help us out with donations,” Grant said.

How to help: To register for the Porch Pick-up Food Drive, call 905-468-7498 or email the agency at newarkneighbours1@gmail.com. And see the website, newarkneighbours.ca, for full details.

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