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Food bank desperate for donations - Jun. 20, 2014


Chris Roberts/Courier
Donna Linton, coordinator of the Charlotte County Community Volunteer Centre, poses in front of one of the food bank’s empty shelves.

Chris Roberts
St. Stephen
The Volunteer Centre of Charlotte County Inc., otherwise known as St. Stephen’s food bank, is urging the public’s support in the wake of a down period, donation wise.
Donna Linton, coordinator of the centre, said it usually experiences a summertime lull with kids getting out of school and parents busy planning vacations, but this year has been worse than expected.
“Financially we’re really down in the dumps,” she said on Tuesday afternoon amidst rather barren shelves. “We have an overdraft in our account but we’ll do anything to avoid hitting it; we’re right on that borderline right now.”
One-time large lump sum donations haven’t been coming in as frequently, and the 200-plus families that use the food bank’s services have been dealing with higher-than-usual heat and light bills from this past winter, placing a greater need and demand for the centre’s non-perishable food items.
“The cost of energy and heat for the past winter is beyond their ability to pay,” said Linton, noting that food bank users are typically paying $300 a month in that regard.
The volunteer centre will receive $7,000 in two weeks time from the government, but that is expected to last three months.
“We leverage that with other community donations and we do some foundation and grant seeking to kind of keep ourselves afloat,” Linton explained.
The summer also brings about a number of projects which require funding and donations. The volunteer centre runs a healthy choice snack program at the Milltown Pool during the summer, offering free and healthy snacks to children who might otherwise go without.
In addition to that, they also help prepare bags with back-to-school essentials for those families with children in need. And for families who have just had a baby, there is an infant formula program in which the centre will match up to two cases per month.
“So we’ve got a lot of programs that we’re committed to and find ourselves out of funds,” said Linton. “We do have two paid employees so there’s a risk there we may not be able to sustain those employees over the summer.”
Non-perishables are always accepted, but donations in the form of money are much appreciated – Linton said that money is important for purchasing items like hamburger meat and eggs, which provide levels of protein not found in non-perishables.
Fresh fruit and vegetable donations can even be made.
“We’ll gladly accept anybody’s donation from gardens; there’s no amount we can’t handle,” Linton added.
On Tuesday morning, Linton went on The Tide radio station in St. Stephen, looking for public support, and by 1 p.m. that day had already received 11 donations. The Calais Legion even graciously brought over roughly $100 worth of supplies.
“We’re kind of sorry that we had to go through the media to get more support, but we’re hoping the message is loud and clear,” Linton explained.
And so far the message has been received.
The centre is located at 199 Union St. in St. Stephen and is open Monday to Friday from 8 a.m.-4 p.m.
However, demand continues to sap resources. On Tuesday, the food bank received 741 pounds of food - and gave out 800, stated Linton.

chrisroberts@stcroixcourier.ca