Member Blog: Glace Bay Food Bank Society

vegetables on a table spell out the words Glace Bay Food Bank

Member Blog: Glace Bay Food Bank Society
Guest blog submission by Glace Bay Food Bank Society

The Glace Bay Food Bank Society opened its doors in 1984. The fire in #26 Coal Mine and the fire at the Highland Fisheries left people out of work and out of food. Then there was the vulnerable population who just needed help. 

The Provincial Department of Community Services offered us funding providing two full-time staff and help with operational expenses through the Town of Glace Bay. They looked after the salaries and the bills.

When a new mayor was elected and the Province took over the Welfare department, the funding stopped. We were offered a grant of $20,000 which we had no choice but to accept. 

Over the years, we went to the Department for an increase but that fell on deaf ears. We had to make it work, so we divided the money between two coordinators. After 33 years serving the people of Glace Bay and surrounding areas with food hampers, hot meals, advocacy and assistance with everything from income tax preparation, doctors, drug addiction, to simply reading a letter—the only increase in funding was to the tune of $700.00.

We were told by councilors once, that although we lost funding, we could not hurt the people by closing the door. So we continued; thankfully, with the community supporting us.

Now we are faced with a new challenge.  As our coordinators and population age, many of the food banks are having difficulties serving the most vulnerable in a community with a 40 % child poverty rate. Organizations need staffing to direct the volunteers and people who are hired on through grant opportunities. These staff members support grant recipients to run programs like 'Plants to Plates' that teaches children how to grow vegetables, cook and work together to see there is a future out there other than poverty. Whenever we can, we run programs to educate and involve young people. If you want to eradicate poverty then you need to engage the young.

Any person receiving funding from the Department of Community Services only receives $275 per month for groceries and personal items. If they have children, they are told that their baby bonus needs to be used to buy groceries. Department of Community Services no longer has emergency funding for their clients—they are directed to go to their local food bank.

Not only do we feed people, but we must concentrate on fundraising to make sure we have the funds to continue. Seems like more time is spent fundraising and begging the public for support than ever before.  We provide our clients with a safe place to be fed and/or get groceries. A place where they are treated with respect.

We are proud of the work we do in the community and our involvement with the Department of Community Services, Department of Justice with the Fine Options Program, Department of Health and Wellness 50 plus program, and any way we can enhance the lives of our clients.

A testament to this is hearing from people who used our food bank as kids, remember how they always had food and presents at Christmastime, and are now making donations to help. By working together we can make a difference. 

Check out this video of the Glace Bay Food Bank Society