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Things that the Helping Hand Food Bank would like YOU to know:

We provide food from a list that follows the Canada Food Guide. When people who experience food insecurity come for an appointment to get food, they are asked if they need items that are on the list. It is up to them to decide what they need from that list. We are not a grocery store with everything that is at a grocery BUT we want to make sure that their food needs are provided with things that are not out of date and are nutritious.

The following is in response to a post on Facebook:

1. Kraft Mac and Cheese – we give this out. We also give out milk (real not powder) and margarine.

2. Milk – we purchase milk to give out to the families. We also receive a dairy quota from the dairy board BUT it is only for 72 litres a month. We provide milk for over 80 families EACH week and so money donated helps purchase the milk.

3. Canned Vegetables and soup, are given out BUT so are canned openers if we are informed that there is a need for one.

4. We give out oil and vinegar. We break it down into recycled cleaned water bottles. We also give out dish soap and laundry soap using recycled cleaned water bottles.

5.Spices, salt and pepper are often things that our clients don’t want or need. When we have it, we offer it through our “Caring Cupboard” . What is the “Caring Cupboard”. This is an area in the food bank that the clients get to look at the items on the shelf and choose them separate from our shopping list. These are food items that are donated that are not part of the shopping list. Food items that are unusual such as hot spicy foods.

6. We give out tea, coffee and hot chocolate. Often in the “Caring Cupboard” we have flavoured teas given to us for those who like to have unusual brands.

7. We give out sugar and flour. BUT many people don’t bake. Why – some don’t have ovens, some don’t know how to cook, some don’t like cooking. The same reasons that many of you may not cook either. Some do, and for them we give them sugar and flour. If we know that they cook, when we get items like baking powder or baking soda or vanilla, we will offer that to them as well.

8. Fresh produce: we give out each week potatoes, carrots, onions and fruit – ALL are items we purchase because people don’t think to donate them to us. We get excited when we receive produce that is clean as a donation. Often another organization called Harvest Hands out of St. Thomas delivers to us once a week produce.

9. For the past two years, in the spring we have offered seeds packages that were donated. The hopes were that clients would plant. Many don’t have garden space or window box space; some do and they took the seeds. We had 2 years ago a huge donation of fresh bedding vegetable plants given and we had many left over after clients were given the chance to take as many as they wanted.

10. Meat – our clients get 3 choices of meat every week. Sometimes based on what Feed Ontario provides for us in meats OR the grocery stores provide for us, they will get 5 choices of meats.

11. Canned meats – we offer tuna, salmon, ham, chicken when we get it donated.

12. We don’t offer Hamburger Helper any longer. We give out beef BUT the reason is due to the high salt content. We look at trying to offer food that is nutritional. We tried to offer packages that we created with everything to make a casserole dish including the recipe and often found that people didn’t want them. This included items for Tuna Casserole, Chili and even a Hamburger style casserole.

13. We give out margarine. Did you see that Dot Canada donated to us a huge donation of margarine to give out to our clients? That is an item that we usually purchase to give out.

14. BREAD – we give out bread plus they get to choose off a rack of bread an extra loaf or tidbit that is donated to us from the grocery stores and Courtland Bakery. We often share excess breads with the Salvation Army store to give out.

15. We give out eggs. This is another staple that we have to purchase. We receive an egg quota from the Egg producers but it isn’t enough to provide for all of the people who support.

16. Cakes – we give out. We do this in 2 ways: Metro donates to us premade cakes and often they are at the reduced costs and some are birthday cakes. We have on file when a client or their family has a birthday and so we give them to celebrate. We don’t have cake mixes to make on our shelves any longer due to a concern of the date. When a cake mix expires the baking soda and baking powder in it becomes toxic and could poison someone. When we receive cake mixes and icing, they go right to the “Caring Cupboard” to go out immediately if the dates on the packages are ok.

17. Feminine hygiene products are given out. We receive items from the “Tampon Tuesday” drive that happens every year. BUT also, Food Banks Canada has a grant that we have applied for to provide products for the women. WE also have a new program where we giving to teenage girls through our new program called TeenPac.

18. Stove Top Stuffing is not given out due to the salt content BUT we give out enough bread that stuffing could be made from that. When we receive it as a donation, we put it into our “Caring Cupboard”

19. We give out fruit, jello cups and apple sauce. We have these as a regular staple BUT also as a part of our school lunch kits that we give out to families to help with school lunches.

20. Toiletry items are provided such as toilet paper, soaps, shampoos, tooth brushes and toothpaste.

21. Pet food is provided as donations come in with this. We have applied for a grant from the Canada Humane Society to be sponsored for this. We are a small food bank and if we receive the grant we will be blessed.


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