Owen Sound Thanksgiving food drive much different this year

cjos foodbank

Like just about everything else in 2020, this year's annual Owen Sound Salvation Army Thanksgiving Food Drive has had to adapt to the times.  

The pandemic has affected not only donations but the number of families they've been assisting.  

Executive Director Alice Wannan tells Dock News they saw quite an increase in numbers in March and April and then CERB kicked in - the government's Covid emergency benefit. 

She says since that ended in September, their numbers have been going up again. 

The numbers of individuals and families needing their services has increased significantly just over the last 2-3 weeks with the end of CERB and other government programs.  

The other change this year - and its a big one - is that for the first time in almost four decades, the Thanksgiving food drive will NOT be collecting food donations. 

Wannan says community and corporate donations have been overwhelming since the onset of the pandemic back in March, stocking their shelves with more than 185,000 pounds of non perishable food items. 

She says they were able to donate some of that to smaller food banks across Grey Bruce to prevent them facing possible closure.   

So, this year, they're collecting strictly financial donations for the annual fall drive.  

There are a number of ways to donate but the easiest is by purchasing a gift certficate from your favourite grocery store in Owen Sound (almost all of them are participating) and then handing it back to the cashier. 

Wannan says that will allow them to purchase fresh items to make the food hampers healthier - everything from produce to dairy including healthy, fresh snacks for the kids' lunches. 

"We made a concious decision when COVID hit our area that we would only purchase food items from our local grocery stores (who support us all year long) and keep our own community people employed at those stores.  We are proud to say we have done that 100%."
    
The Owen Sound Foood Bank has assisted more than 2,800 individuals between March and August; more than 800 were children. 

There were close to 75 new households who accessed the food bank who'd never had to before. 

Wannan says they believe their busiest and most difficult months are still ahead.  

Anyone wanting to make a direct financial donation  can do so. 

Cheques can be mailed or dropped off to 365 14th Street West where receipts will be given. 

They also accept Mastercard/Visa donations over the phone at 519-376-5699.  Again receipts will be given. 

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