WEST CARLETON – The West Carleton Food Access Centre (WCFAC) annual general meeting last week (June 17) reflected a community that greatly supports the local food bank and a clientele that actually needed less support during the COVID-19 pandemic.
The WCFAC’s first AGM in two years was a surprisingly positive one for an organization that serves West Carleton’s financially insecure community. For 2019, the WCFAC chose to submit paperwork to its governing bodies as opposed to holding an official AGM in accordance with approved COVID-19 policies.
WCFAC chair Mary Braun was happy to see board members, volunteers and others in the online meeting attended by roughly 12 people.
“Nice to see all of you, it’s been a while since I’ve seen all your faces,” Braun told the attendees. “Without our team of volunteers, we would not be able to run this non-profit organization. As you are aware, this food bank is run 100 per cent salary free.”
Unlike the many AGMs held in West Carleton in the age of COVID-19, the WCFAC presented a rosy outlook in 2020 where client-use was down, and donations were way up.
WCFAC’s member at large in charge of statistics Marilyn Hillier said there was a decrease of 54 regular orders and three total households in 2020 over 2019. There were 466 orders serving 109 households from Jan. 1 to Dec. 19 (with COVID-19 affecting most of the year starting March 2020).
The WCFAC had 80 families use the service six times of less with 39 households using the service only once. Twenty-nine clients used the service seven or more times with four families using the services consistently every month. The average number of orders per month was 38, down from 43 in 2019.
As of the end of May 2021 the WCFAC filled 171 orders compared to the same time last year the number was 220.
“I can only conclude orders dropped off because people were receiving (government) benefits from COVID-19,” Hillier said.
WCFAC treasurer Brigid Whitnall also had a positive report to share.
“It kind of started like a normal year, and then COVID hit,” Whitnall said. “Our community rallied around us as soon as the lockdowns began. All in all, a busy year to be treasurer last year.”
In 2020, the WCFAC received $206,256.37 in food bank donations and $25,335 in Christmas Basket donation. A City of Ottawa grant brought 2020 total income to $233,591.37.
Expenses for food and support were $41,942.56 and $18,807.20 for Christmas Basket expenses (which also included in $4,143.73 carried over from 2019). Operating expenses were $7,354.30 for a total of $69,306.91.
Braun’s 2021 Chair’s Report touched on the challenges the West Carleton community has faced over the last five years including major flooding in 2017 and 2019; a tornado in 2018 and COVID-19 for the last year and a half.
Braun also thanked produce wholesaler Zak, the Kanata Food Cupboard, Arnprior Food Bank and the Metro grocery store in Arnprior and the Irish Hills Golf Club who all regularly provide food donations to the WCFAC.
“As a result of many efforts and the community generosity, we have been able to respond quickly and effectively to the needs of our residents in very challenging circumstances while maintaining a healthy financial reserve,” Braun said. “We have decided to dissolve the fundraising team at this time. It will be renewed if a future need evolves. We also did not renew the 2020-2021 community funding grant because we have sufficient funds without accessing the grant. It is better to leave the funding for other organizations that are more in need.”