As some Markhamites are losing their seasonal construction jobs as the winter sets in, more line-ups at the local food bank are expected.
These folks will join the under-employed, those on social assistance, those living on fixed income, the disabled and seniors in the growing number of people who rely on the Markham Food Bank each month.
Hunger, unfortunately, is a continuing issue in this city.
Seventeen per cent of Markham residents are considered “poor”, with a family income of lower than $25,000, according to the food bank’s website. Of the affected, about one in five are children or those living with a disability, and one in three is either a new Canadian or a single parent.
Roughly one in six Markham children go hungry at least once a week.
Thankfully, the food bank is there to fill a mounting need – having grown from a portable on Church Street in 1984, assisting about ten families a month, to today serving about 900 clients monthly.
But that is expected to boost to more than 1,200 in December.
To feed this many mouths, the food bank is as much in need as the clients, requiring donations year round.
Items most in demand include: canned vegetables, canned beans, rice, canned milk, pasta sauce, granulated sugar, jam, and personal hygiene products.
With monetary donations, the food bank pays rent and utilities, as well as purchases fresh supermarket items for clients such as eggs, cheese and butter.
Donations also help pay for bus tickets, given to those who rely on public transit to get to the food bank. Those individuals are permitted to return a second time each month in order to carry what they need home.
According to director Carol Reaman, the needs and the clientele have changed recently, and drastically.
“Seniors have gone way way up,” she notes. “There are now four seniors served for every (hungry) baby. It used to be many more children going hungry, but in the past year and a half, it’s done a complete flip.” This has meant more demand for items such as Ensure (the liquid dietary supplement), jellos, and porridge.
Due to other changing demographics, she has noticed more need for ethnic foods, too. “We try to accommodate every nationality, because there’s every nationality in Markham.”
Donations can be made in person, at a local firehall, and Reaman also encourages local schools to coordinate ongoing food drive drop-boxes where students can place non-perishables.
Students are also welcome to give of their time Tuesdays and Saturdays, to accrue their mandatory hours of school community service.
“Please remember,” reminds Reaman, “if you see a food drive basket in the supermarket, or you pass by a firehall, some canned goods can go a long way for someone who is hungry.”
Donation drop offs can be made at: 190 Bullock Drive, Unit 11 during:
Tuesday: 3 pm – 8 pm
Thursday: 10 am – 3 pm
Saturday: 7 am – 11 am
OR At any Markham Fire station or call 905-472-2437 to arrange a pickup.
Visit www.markhamfoodbank.ca for details.