The Yellowknife Food Bank will be holding a mobile food drive on Sunday after its shelves were left nearly empty last weekend.

Cherish Winsor, president of the food bank, posted a photo of the bare shelves on Facebook over Mother’s Day weekend urging Yellowknifers to donate.

Cherish Winsor, president of the YK Food Bank. Meaghan Richens/NNSL photo.

The post has now been shared 141 times and over a thousand people have viewed it, said Winsor.

“The community response has been amazing,” said Winsor. “We’ve been contacted by three schools doing food drives.”

Businesses and other organizations have also stepped up to donate money in the wake of the call for donations.

Sunday food drive

The organization will be holding a mobile food drive outside various grocery stores this weekend.

“We’re going to have different vehicles parked at the different grocery stores around town for a couple of hours with some signage,” said Winsor.

She hopes people will buy groceries to donate and drop them off on their way out of the store.

“Hopefully we’ll have our shelves filled again for another few months,” she said.

The biggest things the food bank needs right now are non-perishables like canned soups and vegetables, said Winsor.

The organization has also posted a list of their most needed items on its Facebook page.

“Obviously people aren’t able to meet their needs right now and we have to fill that gap. Somebody has to be there to fill those needs and make sure people aren’t going hungry.”

Seasonal shortages

It’s not unusual for food bank donations to lull during this time of year, said Winsor.

The food bank distributes food baskets every two weeks. But in the past during spring and summer, they’ve done just one distribution day a month to help stretch donations. 

“But this year we’re not going to want to do that,” she said.
“If we run out of food, we’re going to have go down to less distribution days.”

In the past they’ve done this because there’s been less of a need, Winsor explained. But if distribution slows this year, it will be due to lower donations, not lower demand. 

“If (the Sunday food) drive doesn’t give us enough, we’ll have back off because we know it won’t be until the fall that we get another big shipment of food,” she said.

This food was donated by students at Sir John Franklin High School after the food bank ran out of food last week. Meaghan Richens/NNSL photo.

The food bank relies on food drives put on by other organizations like Moose FM’s ‘Stuff the Bus’, and seasonal food drives around Christmas. This was evident in the food bank’s current stock – while they’re running low on essentials like canned soups and vegetables, there’s no shortage of canned cranberry sauce.

“In the fall we normally get so much that it kind of brings us through this time of year anyway and then our small donations kind of fill in the gaps,” Winsor said. 

“But this year we didn’t quite get as much as we normally would and we’ve had a bigger need this year too so we’ve seen a lot more clients come through.”

The food bank doesn’t collect any personal information about its clients so it’s hard to gauge exactly how many people they serve.

“Last distribution we had over a dozen new clients so it’s not even necessarily the same ones all the time,” said Winsor.

On average, they give out about $6000 worth of food each month, and during January, their busiest month, that number peaks at $9000 said Winsor.

A basket from the YK Food Bank looks something like this. Meaghan Richens/NNSL photo.

The food bank’s distribution days fall on the second and fourth Saturday of the month. Single and family-sized baskets of basic grocery staples are distributed to those who need it through SideDoor Resource Centre.

The family-sized baskets have a little bit more than the single ones, but both are packed with staples like pasta or rice, pasta sauce, tuna, canned vegetables and soups, and peanut butter. Perishables like bread, eggs, lard, flour and salt get added in on the day of if clients want them.

“Our focus is just on meeting that need every two weeks,” said Winsor.

“We’d like to look more at food security and what’s happening in the city but our capacity just isn’t there right now. So that’s a bit of a long-term plan for our organization – to look at those factors and why we’re seeing those needs.”

Meaghan Richens

Meaghan Richens is from Ottawa, Ont., and grew up in Perth. She moved to Yellowknife in May 2018 after completing her bachelor’s degree in journalism at Carleton University. She writes about politics,...

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