Food bank narrows service next year

St. Andrew's will no longer be offering take-home groceries next year.

Unable to meet the demand of growing patronage with church and community donations, a downtown Trail food bank will no longer offer take-home groceries next year.

Resources for St. Andrew’s Anglican Church once-a-month food bank have been spread thin for awhile now.

“Recent donations have steadily declined,” says Rev. Neil Elliot. “This means the hand-out of free groceries cannot continue past March, a time frame already deeply stretching present resources.”

He acknowledged ongoing support from faithful donors and community contributors, but supply simply cannot meet demand past the next four months.

“The food bank will continue to operate normally through March,” Elliot confirmed. “This allows food bank guests a transition planning period through the colder months.”

The service began as a modest food program in the 90s, serving 40 locals. Over time, the food bank grew into community-based outreach, feeding more than 100 people one Tuesday each month.

Handing out mostly non-perishable food items to families and individuals tops $1,000 per month, rendering the church-sponsored program unsustainable.

“We aren’t closing our doors, but we are reshaping our ministry to fit our resources,” Elliot said. “We are excitedly exploring different ways we can help the same guests find healthy food in a safe welcoming space.”

Instead of bagged staples, the church plans to serve a free meal, once a month.

The new program, called the St. Andrew’s Iona Cafe, has a goal to provide healthy food on site and support social time.

“However, there will be no groceries to take home,” Elliot reiterated, adding, “there may also be opportunity to provide some resource information on life skills, housing and other programs that may be available.”

Community support for the new service model is welcome, says the reverend.

He encourages those with ideas or gifts to contact St. Andrew’s at 231.0124 or by email, rev.neil@telus.net.

Earlier this year, a campaign with the catchphrase “Tuesdays in Trail” began.

The aim was twofold. First, to spread word that anyone in need of a hand up will get it that day at St. Andrew’s or across the street at the Trail United Church.

And second, Tuesdays in Trail was a community reminder that the churches worked together every week to run the food banks, and neither volunteer nor donor has to be a congregation member.

As usage continued to swell, St. Andrew’s had to significantly cut back the number of canned goods in each bag.

Then in July, the church stopped providing a sandwich or hot dog lunch, which was a service traditionally provided along with a food hamper.

Still averaging 106 grocery bags at its food bank throughout summer, the cupboards in St. Andrew’s were bare and money stretched to the limit.

“The fact is our donor base is changing,” Trish Milne, the food bank coordinator said at the time, mentioning both churches have lost a considerable base of long term donors and volunteers since last year.

“We need help to fill that gap.”