This past holiday season, the Cambridge Food Bank asked for the community’s help to ensure that everyone had the opportunity to make memories around the dinner table.
The response was incredible; over 3,000 people received food for a memorable holiday meal, and donations flowed in to help keep the shelves stocked during the winter months.
A record-breaking year for need
In 2022, nearly 30,000 people came to the food bank for assistance with emergency food, and nearly 3,000 of those people had never accessed a food bank before in their lives.
“To say that 2022 was a challenging year is an understatement,” said Sarah Tooze, Fund Development Manager for the Cambridge Food Bank. “The residual effects of Covid-19, along with surging inflation, meant that so many more families in Cambridge and North Dumfries had to turn to us for assistance.”
No empty plates
It is only thanks to supporters in the community who donated food, funds, and time that the Cambridge Food Bank has been able to keep up with the rising demand.
“The increased need in our community means that food is going out as fast as it is coming in,” said Dianne McLeod, Executive Director. “We used to count on two food and fund drives a year to stock our shelves. Now we need to bring food in all year long to serve all of our neighbours who are in need.”
In addition to providing practical support like food, the Cambridge Food Bank is making long-term impacts on health by offering important programs that provide people with tools and resources to live well on a limited budget.
Programs for children and youth teach children where food comes from, how to grow food and important life skills like meal prep and kitchen safety. Adults learn about managing chronic conditions like diabetes, high cholesterol or heart disease in a supportive environment where they can also build a network of friends. Family programs focus on building positive relationships with food and family bonding.
“We couldn’t possibly do the work we do without the support of our community,” said Tooze. “To the organizers of office-wide collections, the children who forfeited gifts to collect food instead, the schools and faith groups who found creative ways to inspire giving and teach valuable lessons about the importance of philanthropy, the hundreds of volunteers without whom we couldn’t operate, the businesses who donate annually as part of their mission, the service groups who work year-round to make our community a better place to live, and the countless individuals who recognize that giving back is the best gift of all, thank you from the bottom of our hearts.”