WEST CARLETON – The volunteer board of the West Carleton Food Access Centre (WCFAC) is expecting this holiday season to be busier than it ever has been as inflation remains high and the cost of living takes more dollars than it ever has before.
Call it the calm before the storm as we work through the early part of November, but even the time before the Ottawa Valley switches in to holiday mode has been busier than normal for the WCFAC.
“Numbers are up,” WCFAC chair Mary Braun told West Carleton Online from the food bank in the basement of the West Carleton Community Complex (5670 Carp Rd.). “Compared to this time last year we’ve filled 190 more orders. A few more new families are moving in to the area. I think all the food banks are seeing the same thing.”
Last spring the Ottawa Food Bank reported the highest service figures in its 38-year history. Usage showed a 20 per cent increase over the year before.
“Despite natural disasters, a global pandemic and the rising cost of inflation, day-to-day operations at the Ottawa Food Bank have continued,” CEO Rachael Wilson reported. “However, we are unsure of our sector’s sustainability if the numbers continue to rise at this pace.”
In 2021, the WCFAC spent $31,057 in groceries and $23,815 on its Angel Tree program and other Christmas expenses.
Braun and vice chair Sharon expect with record inflation those numbers might be higher this holiday.
“By the time families pay their rent, their utilities, they have no money left over for food,” Roper said. “Food is not the first priority. But that’s why we’re here. It’s a good service.”
The good news is, with the health restrictions mostly lifted from the COVID-19 pandemic, it means there are more community events, and that means more fundraising opportunities for the WCFAC. Last week the last Carp Farmers’ Market was a fundraiser for the WCFAC. Huntley Centennial Elementary School held one. St. Michael’s Catholic School, Fitzroy Harbour held one. The Dec. 10 Carp Santa Claus Parade will be one.
The WCFAC asks you please check the expiry date of any non-perishable food donated. Expired food can’t be distributed and the WCFAC already has a big crate full of expired food at the centre.
“Monetary donations are well received,” Braun said. “We’ve got a lot of good shoppers.”
The WCFAC opened in Carp in 1996. In 1998 it moved to the Carp Memorial Hall and that was the same year Braun joined the organization.
“I had just been laid off,” she said. “I needed something to do. I was volunteering at all the schools, but I thought I needed something else to do.”
In 2010, Roper joined the WCFAC.
“It was just a small group at the beginning,” Braun said.
But both the need and the organization grew over the years and Braun says there is about 35 to 40 active volunteers.
And now the WCFAC is gearing up for the holiday season.
If you need extra help this Christmas and are a West Carleton resident, you can contact the WCFAC in the strictest confidence at 613-832-5685. Leave a message with your name and contact number and a volunteer will return your call to assist you. The deadline for Christmas requests is Dec. 19. Packages must be picked up at the WCFAC site (5670 Carp Rd.).
For those who would like to assist the WCFAC there are a few ways. The WCFAC is calling local residents, businesses, clubs and churches to help.
To offer basket recipients variety and to accommodate each family’s food preferences, the WCFAC has changed its basket model permanently following the pilot program run for the last two years. Because of that, monetary donations are greatly appreciated. All eligible donations will receive a tax receipt ($20 and up). Cheques can be made to West Carleton Food Access Centre and eTransfers can be sent to WCfoodaid@gmail.com. Please make a not of Christmas Program in the memo section.
Cheques can be mailed to West Carleton Food Access Centre, 5670 Carp Rd., Kinburn, ON, K0A 2H0.