What a Christmas! The month of December witnessed Londoners – individuals, groups, businesses – respond in record numbers to the news released earlier in the month that the food bank had reached 3500 families helped each month. The outpouring lifted the spirit of our volunteers and staff and we thank all those who took the spirit of Christmas to a whole new level.
But as those days recede into recent memory there is the growing realization our numbers will now continue to expand as the economy remains sluggish. Furthermore, conditions like those swirling around the possible job loss at Electro Motive and the shutting down of Ford Talbotville mean that food bank services are going to be required more than ever – even by people who were working only a year ago.
And so we must prepare for a difficult number of months ahead. Fortunately our volunteer component continues to climb and the mood among all those seeking to assist at the food bank itself is one of resolve – to be there for struggling families regardless of how much extra effort is required.
It’s perhaps important for Londoners to know that the food bank is pivotally involved in activities outside of the building itself. Our Operations Coordinator, Mary Ann McDowell sits on a special committee of the Child and Youth Network attempting to assess the immediate needs faced by people struggling on the margins. Co-director Jane Roy continues to network with community associations in an effort to coordinate an effective response to the challenges that clearly lie ahead. I was asked by the City of London to establish a Citizen’s Panel that would seek to gather public input for the special Social Assistance Review (SARC) – the first major study of social assistance in Ontario in the past two decades. That work will continue until March, when the panel will also make presentations at City Hall and for the provincial budget.
This is your food bank – pressured, adapting, involved. But ultimately it’s about a London public that took the present challenges faced and turned it into an opportunity to show community compassion in record numbers. Thank you – every single one of you – for the kindness you have shown. Now we need to take that spirit and apply our energies towards finding better solutions to poverty.