Two food banks in Timmins are noticing an increase in clients and officials who operate them said they’ve been able to keep the doors open thanks to cash donations from businesses and individuals. Feb.7/21 (Lydia Chubak/CTV News Northern Ontario)

The Timmins Food Bank operates differently these days.  

“I just want to assure the people that you know the food banks are not going to close,” said Rick Young, chairman of the Timmins Food Bank.

Before the pandemic, people were allowed to enter inside and select their own items within their allotments.  

Now they’re given pre-packed bags of food because the Timmins Food Bank has had to scale back by about half a bag, due to the lack of food drives. 

“The people understand that,” said Young.

“It’s just that you know, these food drives, that was the key to our success.” 

He said companies and businesses have still been donating money and he’s grateful for that. 

“It’s unreal, some of these places that you know are struggling and they still find money to give to the food bank.”

He added, the Cochrane District Social Services Administration Board is also pitching in to provide bags of food geared to people who are homeless and don’t have access to appliances. 

The South Porcupine Food Bank on the other hand is in a bit better position—it’s even considering buying a new van. 

A food drive in December was a boost as was a cash donation from Newmont Porcupine. 

“We’re very fortunate. We’ve had to buy a lot of groceries. We’ve purchased more groceries I think than we ever have, but we are still able to maintain the food that we typically would give to individuals and families,” said Peter Davis, Treasurer for the South Porcupine Food Bank.

What both men are noticing is a change in demographics. 

“On a monthly basis we’re getting about ten per cent of the people that register are new.  So we’re definitely seeing new people coming to the food bank and needing assistance,” explained Davis.

“We’re seeing an increase and a trend in number of children so it reflects a number of families are starting to increase their need,”

Young said, the Timmins Food Bank is getting more young individuals than families which is the reverse of who it usually sees. 

He’s also hoping the Timmins Fire Department will be able to host a food drive in the spring.