© Herald photo by Matt Gardner
Volunteers sort donated food items on Saturday during the Prince Albert Share-A-Meal Food Bank’s annual food drive.
The Prince Albert Share-A-Meal Food Bank held its annual food drive on Saturday, with a competitive twist.
“This year we did the food fight as well … That was an initiative from Feed Nova Scotia,” co-manager Wes Clark said.
“It’s just competition among the food banks -- definitely the lighter side of it all.”
As part of the food fight, the P.A. food bank competed against five other food banks across the country in two categories, highest weight of food and most weight per capita.
Competing food banks include Feed Nova Scotia -- which encompasses the entire island province -- as well as facilities in Regina, Victoria and a pair of Ontario cities including Newmarket.
“Ours is the smallest at 42,000 people (in) the agglomerate population … We’re hoping, because we’re a smaller food bank, maybe we can capture the per capita category,” Clark said.
The fall food drive is the P.A. food bank’s one and only major annual collection effort.
Though the food bank has considered a spring drive, Clark said they “don’t want to be constantly bothering people for that kind of thing.”
“At the same time, we struggle in the summer months,” he noted. “That’s when we really tend to run out, so by the time we get to this time of year, we’re hurting pretty hard to get as much food as we can in.”
Last year the food bank collected approximately 30,000 pounds of food during its food drive.
By Saturday afternoon during this year’s drive, numbers for the food fight alone were hovering around 4,000 pounds.
To put those numbers into perspective, each month the food bank goes through roughly 11,000 pounds of food. Clark noted that 100,000 pounds would be an ideal number for the food bank to have in reserve.
Each year, the food drive relies on a team of volunteers -- culled in large part from church groups, sports teams and other community organizations such as the Scouts -- to collect the brown paper bags sent out to the community for food donations.
It’s just competition among the food banks -- definitely the lighter side of it all. Wes Clark
Volunteer and former P.A. food bank board member Jeannette Eddolls assigned the routes to different drivers this year.
“They have a map of the area of the city that they’re going to be going to,” she said. “Usually we have a driver and hopefully two or maybe even three runners to go with that driver, and so they go up and down the streets in their designated area.
“Every door has to be addressed, every household door. So if there are groceries on the doorstep, they just pick up the groceries and put a thank you card in the mailbox.
“If there are no groceries on the doorstep, then they’re asked to knock on the door and ask if there’s a donation to be given. We do not go to apartment blocks or seniors’ complexes … but just single-unit homes.”
In its collection drive, the food bank prefers non-perishable items such as canned goods.
As a portion of the volunteers brought back bag after bag of food on Saturday, others busied themselves sorting different food items.
Eddolls said that the number of volunteers had decreased slightly from last year, possibly due to the unfavourable weather.
While the collection drive is the food bank’s most prominent annual event, city residents are free to donate food at any time of the year.
“I think that each of us as citizens has to stop and think -- just but by the grace of God, it could be us that are in need for some groceries for a while,” Eddolls said.
“So it’s kindly to people to hand over a little bit to help somebody else -- give them a lift up.”