Salvation army food bank
No matter what the future has to throw at the community of Sault Ste. Marie, the Community and Family Services division of The Salvation Army is well prepared. In this northern Ontario community of 75 000 on the shore of Lake Superior, 11 000 people are living under the poverty line and the economy has taken a hit.
When the initial lockdown went into effect in March 2020, Executive Director of The Salvation Army food bank, Major Sean Furey says they saw an increase in residents looking for assistance “right off the bat.”
“The first week of the lockdown we served more people in a week than we normally do in a month. We were worried about having the resources to continue at that rate,” Sean says.
Because of hoarding during the initial weeks of the pandemic and the struggle to find enough food to stock the food bank, Furey joined a meeting with the District of Sault Ste. Marie Social Services Administration Board (DSSMSSAB). Many of the city’s social service agencies had also closed their doors and stopped providing services to the poor and homeless.
“At that meeting, we expressed concerns about the lack of meals available to the homeless and our inability to access enough food to continue to operate. We were unable to bulk buy at the onset of the pandemic,” Sean says. The DSSMSSAB provided CFS with 1 500 prepared meals worth $30 000 to meet emergency community demand in Sault Ste. Marie.
The food bank currently operates four days a week and is “twice if not three times as busy” compared to the five days a week operation prior to the pandemic as there is now no shortage of food to share. CFS has also been collecting tens of thousands of pounds of food nearing its expiry date from distributors. This food would normally be going to waste, but because it is distributed to be eaten the same day, expiry dates don’t come into play.