Rotten egg award

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In the last part of our three part series, today, I will talk about April, the ignoble winner of the (now) infamous Rotten Egg Award for 2010.

Unfortunately April is a bad time for our food hampers to fall below the overall averages because April is a tricky time of the year for many patrons. At this time many patrons are trying to catch up on debts that they have accumulated over the holidays or during periods of seasonal unemployment before their EI claims were processed. For others the fact that outdoor seasonal employment, such as landscaping or construction, aren’t in full swing yet hits hard because their part-time hours aren’t sufficient to pay all the bills. Also student (summer) placement jobs don’t generally begin until late June, despite the fact that many students are done their university semesters and their OSAP before this. Plus at some point in the month many families and individuals will be looking forward to the idea of eating a big meal and sharing gifts with young children, as a part of celebrating Easter with their families but lack the funds and ability to do so. Clearly there are many different reasons why this is a bad time for food assistance programs to be running short on supplies. But with 2 581 households in need of assistance, how bad were things?

Well sadly, every food category fell below the overall averages for the year. That means that 2 854 hampers probably missed out on having a variety of items in their hamper. This is especially true for single person hampers, because when supplies are low single people are often the first group to be restricted from any food item in our quotas because they are the most numerous. Though it may not always be fair, because approximately 45 percent of the hampers we serve are to single person households, this is the most appropriate solution to a complex problem in managing our food supplies.  We are forced to save items for larger families so their hamper size is more proportional to their family size.

Throughout April we’re scrambling with whatever donations we receive, which are mostly from the Second Helping program and the twice weekly pickup from Loblaws via the Food Bank of Waterloo Region.  This helps us have a small supply of fresh produce available, in between donations by other local agencies or supporters. Many local supporters are not able to provide us with a large donation because they have not yet seen the fruit of their efforts, as it’s still early in the local growing season.

As a result, Raymond (who works in the warehouse and is tasked with the monitoring of our food inventory) meticulously manages our limited food stocks, since non-perishable and staple foods such as pasta, canned meat, rice, and peanut butter were also not always in abundance. The end of May is when our program generally begins to see the sorted efforts of many non-perishable foods from the Food Banks spring collection. And without many of these perishable and non-perishable food items our patrons are left scrambling to find things to make many of the meals they were hoping to receive from a hamper at our program.

Some days it meant a difference of a full days worth of food to all of our hampers. And other days our small supplies mean that patrons may only be able eat a small breakfast and small supper to help stretch out the few items we had to share. Overall April was a juggling act to make sure that we did not run out of food completely and have things turn into a complete disaster.

Our only hope is that this coming April will be better, and that next year, the Rotten Egg Award won’t stink as much.

And now,  after sharing some of the negative things about last year, I want to lighten things a bit, and present some much-needed thank you’s.  It wouldn’t be a true award without a thank you or two!

Since November and April are unable to speak for themselves, I’ll offer the thanks you’s on their behalf. Although these are just two of the twelve important months that our program was offering food in 2010, so these thanks you’s apply to the whole year. Because without the consistent support of all of these individuals and organizations throughout the year, none of our work and food hampers would be possible. So here goes…

Thank you to all of our many volunteers who assist us in sorting through food, packing hampers and keeps our building clean each week! Without everyone working together as a team our hamper packers wouldn’t be able to help approximately twenty eight households each hour that we’re open with a food hamper.

Thank you to the staff and volunteers that work at the Food Bank. It’s no easy job to work through the volume of food you receive; and we are very grateful for the many skids of food that you ship to us twice a week.

Thank you to the many individuals and churches who generously donate various food items and hygiene products for us to distribute to over 9 500 households in 2010.

Thank you to all the other organizations and farmers within the community who continually supports the work we do here. To see one of the many donations that we received over last summer, click here.

Thank you all so much for helping us to provide food to all the people in need. Each canned food item or piece of pocket change that has been donated has truly made a difference for our program, and the 32 041 hampers we served over 2010.

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