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A little diligence goes a long way for food bank


Dauphin and District Community Food Bank (DDCFB) organizers are appreciative of, and amazed by the support they receive from the community. But some donations are proving to be more work than others.
“We understand that often people might be putting parents in nursing homes and cleaning out their pantry, but we cannot accept expired food that is well past the best before date,” said DDCFB board member Kit Daley, adding there have been times when the food bank has had to dispose of more than 300 pounds of expired food. In total, last year, 800 pounds of donations had to be culled.
“And we’re not talking like two or three months past the best before date. We’re talking years. We’ve had stuff brought in best before 2010.”
In an effort to be environmentally friendly, food bank volunteers empty each can, wash it and recycle it, making a lot of extra work for volunteers, Daley said.
“It’s very difficult and we don’t want to be putting 40 canned goods in the garbage, you know, we want to empty and recycle. It’s very time consuming,” she said, adding she hopes people will be a little more diligent with the donations they bring in to the food bank.
“We really want to recognize how much we appreciate that they think of us when they are doing these things or when there’s a food drive. Maybe just take a little more time to check the dates.”
There has also been an issue with people bringing in items that have been opened, Daley added.
“So if we get a bag of flour that’s been opened or a box of cereal, we can’t accept that,” she said.
“We don’t want to sound like we’re whining. We really want to acknowledge that we appreciate the generosity. And if people are thinking about donating to the food bank, monetary donations are perfect because then we know what we need.”
The issue becomes more pronounced this time of year when the food bank is gearing up for the Christmas season. With the expense and hours that go into preparing for the hampers, one less thing for volunteers to worry about would be appreciated.
Generally, the food bank prepares about 175 hampers for people who missed the initial intake at the Dauphin Friendship Centre.
“The Friendship Centre, that application has passed. So what the food bank will be doing is preparing hampers for singles and couples and any families that missed the deadline,” Daley said.
As it did last year, the food bank will be limiting its reach, distributing hampers only to residents of Dauphin, Sifton and Ochre River.
The demand, Daley said, was becoming too great and the DDCFB was unable to keep pace. Other communities in the area and First Nations have been informed they need to make other arrangements.
“Some areas were not happy with it and it’s difficult for us because we want to help everybody,” she said.
“And many of the communities do look after it. We know a lot of the bands do prepare Christmas hampers for their residents. It’s tricky for us, we want to help everybody, but we can’t afford to.”
In terms of volunteers the food bank is in good shape for the holidays, with several regular workers coming back year after year. But that is not to say more hands wouldn’t be appreciated.
“We get, you know, 20 or 30 people, because the setting up for the hampers is a huge job and the packing of the hampers is a huge job. So if we can get 20 volunteers helping out that’s really wonderful,” Daley said.
Anyone interested in volunteering with the food bank, or wanting to make a donation, can call the DDCFB at 204-638-7853.