Food banks gearing up for holiday season

Anthony Abbondanza
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But will supply meet demand?

On Rock Ministries will run its Christmas food and gift distribution on Dec. 21.

Despite the ever-growing demand for food supplies this holiday season, most West Island non-profit organizations are up for the task, fitting every last non-perishable item into readily-available food baskets.

Throughout the month of December, organizations like On Rock Ministries, West Island Assistance Fund, and the West Island Mission will be providing needy families west of Montreal with food baskets –and some peace of mind.

But for this holiday season –at the very least –supply doesn’t always meet demand.

The situation is looking somewhat bleak for the West Island Assistance Fund (WIAF), which since 1966 has been catering to the needs of individuals and families in dire social conditions. According to Suzanne Tremblay, director of food services, the food bank is nearly empty.

“Yes and no” said Tremblay when asked if she was worried with the lack of stored food considering Christmas is a mere three weeks away.

“I think more people will need it this year. People who have lost their jobs, or are working part-time or on call will come,” she added.

Those “people” make up roughly 400 families that depend on the WIAF every month. Should they not receive sufficient food donations in time, Tremblay said the organization will ask for Moisson Montreal’s help.

But not every organization is having difficulty feeding their weekly West Island customers - On Rock Ministries is one such non-profit organization.

 “Christmas is a time when all kinds of people throw food at you,” said Kim Reid, founder of On Rock Ministries, who’s been serving the Pierrefonds-Roxboro community the last eight years.

The donations couldn’t have come at a better time as On Rock is experiencing a bigger demand for food baskets in recent months.  Given people’s need to give this time of year, Reid said he has ample supply to feed the 180 to 190 families –up 20 families or so since August - that visit On Rock weekly.

The organization will run its Christmas food and gift distribution Dec. 21.

Meanwhile, the West Island Mission –and roughly 200 volunteers – is set to distribute food baskets to 260 families on Dec. 14 in what may be their biggest event of the year.

“Our hope is that we can give these families some holiday joy and a chance to celebrate the season as the rest of us do,” said Wendy Gariepy, director of operations at West Island Mission, which opened its doors in 2005.

Gariepy is also hoping the ‘Sponsor a Turkey’ drive, whereby a generous donation of $20 will put a fat, tasty turkey on needy families’ tables, is successful this year. “What seems to be a holiday staple for most of us is often a luxury item when you are struggling daily to just feed you family,” she said.

@AAbbondanza1

Organizations: West Island Assistance Fund

Geographic location: West Island, Montreal, Turkey

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