By Jennifer Vardy Little
Two local food banks got an early Christmas present from shoppers at the Kentville Foodland.
Over a three-week period, shoppers donated funds to the Canning and Area Food Bank and the Kentville Food Bank, raising $8,901 – more than tripling the amount raised in last year’s campaign and raising the most of any Foodland that participated in the fundraising drive.
The Canning food bank will receive the lion’s share of the funding, with $5,500, and the Kentville Food Bank will receive $3,401. Accounts for both organizations will be set up at the store, said owner/operator Aaron Cossaboom, and the two food banks will be able to purchase the much-needed fresh supplies, like milk, cheese, meats and vegetables, which aren’t often donated.
“This is going to help us quite a bit,” said Wayne Dykens, treasurer of the Canning and Area Food Bank. “Last year, we helped 732 families, and this year, we’re getting new families come all the time. The need is there. I’m shocked at how little some of these families survive on.”
The funds Canning will receive represent approximately one-fourth of their annual budget and will be a “huge” boost to the food bank, Dykens said.
“We’ll be able to come in and pick up anything we want,” he said. “That’s a wonderful gift for us. We’re great at shopping the flyers and buy up things when they go on sale, so we’ll stretch it as far as it can go.”
The Canning food bank depends mostly on donations to help the families in need. Because of its size, it receives only a small percentage of the food provided by provincial organization Feed Nova Scotia.
The $3,401 donation to the Kentville Food Bank won’t go quite as far – that represents the costs of about a month and a half of the purchases it makes, says vice-chairman Bud Little – but that organization is also serving a much larger area. On a monthly basis, about 260 families turn to the Kentville Food Bank for help.
“This will help us – absolutely, immensely,” he said. “It will pretty well buy what we really need – the staples and the fresh things. The big things we always need are canned meat, peanut butter and jams, beans and canned pasta, like Beefaroni. This will mean for a month and a half, we can cover all of our buys.”
Store owner/operator Aaron Cossaboom said he was thrilled with the fundraiser’s results, which far exceeded expectations. The Middleton Foodland was the next highest fundraiser, bringing in $2,700.
The store offered customers the option of entering their name in for a draw for a television with every $2 donation, he said, which helped drive the total up. He also believes the fact that they’re helping local food banks also increased the support.
“When we started out, we were hoping to raise $5,000 – we exceeded that, almost doubled our goal,” he said. “Our staff worked really hard and our customers wanted to help out, I think, because they know there’s a need locally and want to help out here.”