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Hunger doesn’t take a vacation-West Island food banks

Hunger doesn’t take a vacation
West Island food banks

Hunger doesn’t take a vacation. It is a reality which Kirkland resident, Kim Reid witnesses on a daily basis.

Reid is President of On Rock Community Services in Pierrefonds, which is a food bank resource that reaches 200 families on a weekly basis.

“Our needs are growing at an annual rate of 17%. For the first time since I began working here eight years ago, I put out a plea to the media for help. Food increases with publicity,” Reid told The Suburban.

The recent media coverage allowed for people to give through different avenues.

Craig Shaw, a Montreal philanthropist who organized three truckloads of food to the aid Katrina victims, organized a comedy night within an hour of hearing Reid’s plea.

West park school in Dollard-Des-Ormeaux collected 400 pounds of food through a car wash set up by students.

A ten year old boy collected cans, and he came by with food he purchased from the $13.10 he had made on his initial run. His plan is to continue through the summer.

A prominent West Island company has also stepped up to the plate with a $10,000 donation.

“We serve up an average of $20,000 worth of food every week. This doesn’t include the bi-weekly community diner when up to 80 people are fed. We are on track to reach a value of 1.5 million this year,” Said Reid.

On Rock are always in need of non-perishable foods: cereal, pastas, sauce, meals in can, soup, tuna, salmon and peanut butter.

“We have seen close to $3,000 additional income because of the added coverage,” said Reid.

Wendy Gariepy, Operations Manager, of West Island Mission (WIM), believes the key is educating the population that hunger doesn’t take a vacation.

WIM was established in 2005. It provides food assistance and other related aid to the less fortunate living in the West Island.

We service up to 160 families a month, and growing, so everything counts,” Gariepy told The Suburban.

WIM generates most of its revenues through individual donations.

“A few corporations give generously a couple of times a year. West Island Community Shares came on board this year which is a big asset,” added Gariepy.

WIM organizes a back to school project in August, which has students receiving backpacks of food such as cereal, pasta and juices.

The organization is seeking volunteer drivers for Saturday drop-offs to their clients, that would take up no more then 90 minutes.

“We receive great support during the holidays, but people tend to forget that the need is continuous” said Gariepy.

Claudine Campeau, Executive Director of The West Island Assistance Fund (WIAF) sees the trend moving upwards.

“We service 864 families on a monthly basis which represents a 10% increase from a year go,” Campeau told The Suburban.

According to Caroline Tison, Executive Director of West Island Community Shares, “Requests for West Island food banks have increased by 22% since 2010.”

WIAF’s vision, since 1966, is working towards the elimination of food and economic insecurity in the West-Island, while supporting self-sufficiency of their clientele.

“We make certain that this assistance reaches the right people, as proof of residence, and revenue is required,” added Campeau.

WIAF distributes 200 boxes of food at Christmas, but the need is constant. $300,000 worth of goods and services are distributed annually. Currently, there is a need of fruits on their shelves.

The West Island community has answered the bell, but the need to tackle hunger appears to be growing.

On Rock Community Services can be reached at the following link:
Tel: (514) 696-1905

Further information on WIM:
Telephone: (514) 912-6813

West Island Assistance Funds can be reached at the following link:
(514) 919-6397

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