UXBRIDGE: Facing continued growth in their client base, accessibility issues, and a volunteer shortage, the Uxbridge Loaves and Fishes food bank recently presented their ongoing challenges at a recent council meeting.
On Monday, September 23rd food bank co-ordinator Jeff Ross appeared before the council to outline some challenges being faced by the organization. “Our main issue is accessibility,” Ross explained, noting that the food bank’s location at St. Andrews-Chalmers Presbyterian Church is only accessible by stairs. “Our clients sometimes suffer from mobility issues, sometimes they need walkers or even wheelchairs, and we also have some younger people who are trying to navigate the stairs with a baby in one arm and groceries in another.”
The food bank is staffed by a dedicated team of about 30 volunteers, working over 150 hours every month to assist up to 150 families that rely on the food bank. “Many of our volunteers have been with us for many, many years and it’s difficult to fill those vacancies with the network we have,” Ross explained. “Some of our volunteers we do have are not available during our hours of operation, and in general people are just living busier and busier lives and aren’t as interested in a long-term commitment.”
The food bank, which has operated out of the Presbyterian Church since its founding 30 years ago in 1989 has seen the number of people utilizing its services steadily grow since then. “Our client base is steadily growing, most
recently we’ve seen an increase in the number of single seniors and homes with multiple dependents, such as younger children or combined families,” added Ross. “The people we serve, some have suffered an illness or have
a continued chronic illness and are on disability, some are underemployed or precariously employed, some have suffered a layoff recently or their business closed, there’re many reasons. For whatever reason, these people are finding it difficult to make ends meet, and we are there for them when times are tough.”
For additional information on the food bank, or to become a volunteer, please contact Loaves and Fishes at 905-852-6262 or uxbridgeloavesandfishes@hotmail.com.