HOLIDAY FOOD PICKUP: Superstore, No Frills, Wholesale Club Pickup for Harvest Manitoba

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By Christmas Eve, all Winnipeg Real Canadian Superstore, No Frills and Wholesale Club stores will be collecting non-perishable food items as well as cash donations for Harvest Manitoba to support community members in need with their fundraising. annual holiday food.

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“Obviously as a big company we try to give back to the community and we do it in a lot of different ways,” said Loblaws director of corporate affairs Mark Boudreau, speaking from Halifax. “We are a grocer, so our food bank partners are near and dear to our hearts. “

The holiday food drive started on December 2nd.

“We collect food all year round (for food banks) and we have a number of different programs around collecting food and donating perishable items and that sort of thing, but the focus is right now on the holiday season and we’re trying to do a really big boost for Harvest Manitoba, ”Boudreau said.

According to Food Banks Canada, there has been a 20% increase in food bank visits nationwide since the start of the pandemic, with Manitoba children accounting for 41.6% of food bank users and seniors accounting for 6.6%. This is the highest since the 2008 recession.

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“In Winnipeg, for example, it’s shocking that one in five households somehow depend on food banks. Said Boudreau.

“I think people in general at this time of year are pretty generous. They see a food bank and are more inclined to donate, but this year there is that element of public education which we hope will help raise awareness of not only what you are doing, but why you are doing it. .

Donation bins for food products are in store and monetary donations are accepted at the cash desk. When it comes to favorite donations, the items most needed are the same that fill the basket every week, including pasta and pasta sauces, canned meats and fish, canned vegetables and fruits, whole grain cereals, baby foods and formulas, toilet paper, diapers and personal hygiene products.

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Harvest Manitoba President and CEO Vince Barletta in the Harvest warehouse in Winnipeg. Photo by photo provided /Manitoba Harvest

Harvest Manitoba feeds more than 80,000 people a month, including baskets at food banks across the province, as well as soup kitchens, child care and snack programs.

“A lot of the food that ends up in these baskets and in these 350 agencies (across the province) comes from donations and people putting their boxes in the trash,” said Vince Barletta, President and CEO of Harvest Manitoba. “Right now we have over 600 of our yellow bins across the city of Winnipeg where people can put non-perishable items. We pick up items that end up in our warehouse (in Winnipeg) and end up in our baskets and other programs.

“Food donations have always been a big part of how we operate and for all of our retail partners who help us, and all the Winnipeggers and Manitobans who put this box in the trash and bring food here, that means a lot, especially at this time of year. “

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Since the pandemic began in March 2020, it has been a “perfect storm” for Harvest Manitoba, said Barletta, which has been almost forced to shut down.

“We saw our demand for food, the number of people we were serving increase almost overnight by 30% and that’s because people didn’t have jobs or schools and that was before they went. many government programs do start to escalate, ”Barletta said. . “There was a lot of uncertainty and a lot of people who were seriously disadvantaged economically.

“At the same time, because people weren’t going out and doing as much and stocking up on food and toilet paper for their own households as well as supply chain issues, we saw food donations drop by about 80%. At the same time it happened, due to public health restrictions we had to send a lot of our volunteers who support our work here at home. It’s a place that is supported by tens of thousands of volunteer hours every year, so without volunteers it’s really hard to do our job here.

“It all happened at the same time. “

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Twitter: @SunGlenDawkins

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