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Charlottetown food bank focusing on healthy eating


CHARLOTTETOWN, P.E.I. —

The Upper Room Food Bank in Charlottetown is focused on putting healthy food in Island homes.

General manager Mike MacDonald said the Belmont Street facility has both a walk-in cooler and a walk-in freezer and is able to accept not only non-perishable items but also fresh and frozen products.

There is an emphasis on providing clients with fresh, healthy foods, he told The Guardian.

“If people are interested in donating, we’re looking for things like fruit and vegetables. We’d love to get things like cheese and yogurt, just to increase the quality of the product that we’re giving out,” he said. “We want to provide a more well-balanced package of groceries that we’re giving to people.”

Along with food donations, the food bank accepts items such as toothbrushes, toothpaste, deodorant, soap, laundry soap, feminine hygiene products and pet food.

“The more items we’re able to give to individuals, the more extra money they may have to spend in other places,” MacDonald said.

The Charlottetown food bank sees about 1,600 individuals each month – where an individual represents anywhere from one person to a family of six – which works out to be about 520 households.

“Our numbers have been pretty stagnant for the last five years. They’ll go up a bit, they’ll go down a bit, but they’ve been pretty close to the same.”


– Mike MacDonald

This number makes up about half of the number of visits at food banks Islandwide.

According to Food Banks Canada’s Hunger Count 2018 statistics released this month, there were 3,152 visits to Island food banks last March.

MacDonald said the number of people using the Charlottetown food bank hasn’t changed much over the past several years.

“Our numbers have been pretty stagnant for the last five years. They’ll go up a bit, they’ll go down a bit, but they’ve been pretty close to the same.”

The food bank sees the most people during December, January and February, with the slowest months being June, July and August.

“Our shelves are probably the barest during the summer months,” he said. “That would be the time of the year where we purchase more food than any other time.”

Between the food bank and the Soup Kitchen on Richmond Street, MacDonald said the Upper Room Hospitality Ministries spends close to $70,000 per year purchasing items like ground beef, apples and eggs. That money comes from donations.

“We’re extremely fortunate with the support we get, whether it’s people giving time or money or food,” he said. “Islanders are well-known for their generosity.”

While both the food bank and soup kitchen have lots of volunteers, MacDonald said they can usually find spots for others who are interested in lending a helping hand.

“We usually get a call or two a week of people wanting to volunteer. The more individuals we can get in, the lighter work it is for all of us.”

Anyone interested in volunteering at the food bank can send an email to upper_room@pei.sympatico.ca. For more information, visit urhm.org.

This is some of the March 2018 data collected for P.E.I., broken down by age and location. Source: Hungercount.foodbankscanada.ca/pei/

By the numbers

Each March, Food Banks Canada surveys thousands of food banks across the country to provide a snapshot of current food bank use. The following are some of the 2018 findings.

All of Canada:

  • 1,096,935 visits
  • 35.2 per cent were children
  • 45.1 per cent were singles
  • 59 per cent were people on social assistance and disability-related supports

Prince Edward Island:

  • 3,152 visits
  • 36.5 per cent were children
  • 38.8 per cent were singles
  • 48.5 per cent were people on social assistance and disability-related supports

At a glance

Here is a one-month breakdown of food bank visits:

March 2018:

  • Canada: 1,096,935
  • British Columbia: 126,732
  • Alberta: 97,497
  • Saskatchewan: 38,610
  • Manitoba: 68,920
  • Ontario: 323,931
  • Quebec: 356,970
  • New Brunswick: 20,627
  • Prince Edward Island: 3,152
  • Nova Scotia: 25,773
  • Newfoundland & Labrador: 28,063
  • Territories: 6,660

Source: hungercount.foodbankscanada.ca



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