Area food banks addressing growing need in Sarnia-Lambton

Food Donations. BlackburnNews.com file photo.

Sarnia’s Inn of the Good Shepherd and Salvation Army are each taking steps to ensure that through these tough economic times, local residents can still put food on the table.

The Inn is hosting a pair of food drives this week, while Sarnia’s Salvation Army has set up a no-contact donation spot outside their Confederation Street location.

Inn Executive Director Myles Vanni said students from the social service work program at Lambton College, along with people who are just pitching in to help, are going to do a drive-by food drive Thursday to Saturday.

“They’ve outlined different areas of the community and the county they’ll be in on certain days. Put the food out on your front step by 9 a.m. and they’ll just drive by and grab it and bring it to the Inn at the end of the day.”

Vanni said the Inn is also teaming up with the London Road Shopping Centre for a drive-thru food drive Friday between 10 a.m. and 2 p.m.

“We’d ask you to put your food donation in your trunk. You can just drive into the plaza, put it in park, just pop your trunk, we will take the food donation out of your trunk and you’ll be able to carry on your way.”

Vanni said the Inn has seen a lot of new people lately.

“People who have been laid off or had their hours cut and now are kind of concerned financially and they can’t make ends meet, so we’re seeing new people come in that way.”

Sarnia Salvation Army Lieutenant Brad Webster said their doors are open to everyone in the community, even if you haven’t used their food bank in the past.

“We want to say to those people out there who may be looking at reduced hours or maybe have a temporary layoff at this time, that we are accessible to them as well. Don’t think that just because, you know, you make a certain amount of money a year that you might not qualify, we’re kind of putting away the qualifying right now and saying that any family that’s in need of food at this time, call us, make an appointment, come in and see us and we’ll make sure to help you out.”

Webster said they’ve reduced the number of people allowed in the centre at a given time but they haven’t decreased the number of people they see every day.

“So what we’ve done is we’ve actually increased the hours of our foodbank, by appointment only, from 9 a.m. to 3:30 p.m. Tuesday through Friday. This way we can get as many people through the door in as safe a manner as possible,” said Webster. “This is not the time to be thinking that ‘I can’t access that service’ or ‘maybe I don’t qualify for that service.’ We need to come together as a community and support one another during this time, so that’s exactly what we’re doing, we’re just reaching out to everybody who may need us.”

Webster said they’ve recently experienced a shortage of donations and that they’re now using reserve food stockpiled from Christmas.

“We did the responsible thing and we made sure that we had reserves, and you know what, this is the reason we do that. We can get through at least a couple of months, maybe a little bit more, with the reserves we have now, but they will start to dwindle.”