Extended Hands, the biggest food bank in Lachine finds itself in a precarious situation after its 15-foot delivery truck lost two wheels and cannot be used for food pick-ups anymore. The charity which feeds 400 mouths a week has continued operating since the day of the accident on Jan. 8 by borrowing a truck from a magnanimous corporation but the temporary solution cannot last forever.
Every Tuesday, the Extended Hands staff go to Moisson Montreal and other food donators and pick up the food they will offer to their patrons on Wednesdays and Thursdays for the hot meal event.
The routine was broken when the delivery truck lost two of its back wheels at the beginning of January. Since then, Penske, a U.S.-based truck lending company with offices in Canada, has generously agreed to let Extended Hands use one of its trucks for pick-ups, but only for one day a week which causes problems according to coordinator Tara Lee Gooding.
"It's not enough for us because we can get a full call on Thursday for let's say meat. Then I have to refuse the donation because we don't have a truck to pick it up. Sometimes we'll get cake or pasta. We might get a Friday morning pick-up for bread. If we don't have a truck, we cannot pick up the big quantities of items so we end up missing out. One morning we received a phone call to pick up six pallets of food but we had to refuse because we didn't have a truck," she said.
Meanwhile, the organization doesn't want to overstay their welcome with Penske and are looking for a way to obtain a new truck. Extended Hands is trying to raise money to purchase a second-hand truck but the potential cost is steep.
"Our driver had gone to a location to maybe be eligible for a second-hand truck but they require a $20,000 deposit. Plus we have to pay anywhere from $600 to $1,000 a month for the lease. It depends on model and size of the truck. I think it would be $50,000 for a two years old truck. The best thing would be if somebody would have a truck to donate. Or if there is a way we could get a truck and maybe not pay for the first year and then the second year we could start paying monthly," she said.
While Penske has been generous so far, the temporary solution may not last forever. If Penske receives a request to rent the truck from a paying customer, Extended Hands might be left without a vehicle.
"They're a trucking company: if they have a paying client, then we probably won't have the truck. We don't want to stay like that. We want to make sure we have access to a truck whenever we need it. They (Penske) say that we could have a couple more months using their truck but like I said if they get a call from somebody who wants to rent the truck, we can't use it. So at any time, there could be one week where we have no vehicle," she said.
To find out how you can help or to make a donation to Extended Hands, visit their website at www.extendedhands.net or call 514-538-1942.