Sioux Lookout Food Bank operating under new management, working to keep pace with growing demand for service
Tim Brody - Editor
Three local churches in Sioux Lookout are leading the charge in the battle against food insecurity within the Municipality.
Calvary Baptist Church, New Life Assembly and Cornerstone Christian Fellowship have been operating the community’s food bank since late October.
Merle Burkholder, a representative of Cornerstone Christian Fellowship shared, “What happened there was the Out of the Cold organization was running the shelter and the food bank. Then KDSB (Kenora District Services Board) wanted to provide another service provider and so they found a service provider for the shelter but not the food bank. They were taking expressions of interest and so as pastors we met and talked about whether our churches would do the food bank and then we put in a letter of interest to operate the food bank… It was accepted and we started working on our plans.”
“It is our biblical mandate to actually care for the orphan and the widow and the sojourner. As you read through scriptures, you will find the people of God caring for their community in this way so… for me and I think for all of us as pastors, it was a no-brainer. We had to say yes. We really want to serve our community really well, really faithfully. We want them to see us active,” Paster Carter Krahn of Calvary Baptist Church commented.
“Ultimately it leads to God being glorified, and that’s the biggest part of what we get to do I think, is caring for the personal needs of people and that God gets the glory for their provision. The community gets to be a really big part of that as well, the churches, we’re not the only ones that are going to be sole volunteers, nor are we the sole contributors for the food,” Krahn added.
“The churches, yes, maybe we might lead the charge, but we as the community get to be a blessing,” he stated.
“Food insecurity, with inflation and the rise in food prices, is a growing issue in our town and it’s something that somebody needs to be doing something about. To see the food bank just sort of get lost didn’t seem like a viable option,” Burkholder said.
Susan Barclay is the former Executive Director of the Out of the Cold shelter, where the food banks was run from. She is also a member of the Sioux Lookout Food Bank Board.
The Board said almost 70 families, ranging in size from one to nine people, have been using the food bank.
Barclay said that’s more than double the number of families that were utilizing the service prior to the pandemic.
“There is no funding for food banks, never has been. There’s been little bits and pieces of donations, some bigger, some smaller, but the community has been very good over the years that we’ve been involved, with donations of food,” she said adding, “We had funding to run the shelter, so we managed to keep it going.”
The Sioux Lookout Food Bank Board is looking to the community for assistance and is seeking volunteers and donations.
“To do something like the food bank it takes a good solid base of volunteers to make everything happen,” Burkholder said.
“We want to be working shoulder and shoulder with people in the community,”
Volunteers to sort food donations and pack food hampers are being sought.
Donations of food and monetary donations to support the service are also being sought.
Anyone able to volunteer or make a donation can contact the three churches at: Calvary Baptist Church – 737-3293, Cornerstone Christian Fellowship – 737-3839, New Life Assembly – 737-2843.
People interested in receiving a food hamper can call the churches.
The Board is asking people requesting a food hamper to let them know if there are any special considerations, such as a need for baby formula or dog or cat food.
“What’s happening is our volunteers come in, stock and organize our shelves, pack the hampers and right now as people are calling in, we try to get them a hamper within a few days of that phone call, or same day if it’s urgent enough,” Krahn explained.
Food hampers are being delivered within the Municipal boundary, including Alcona and Hudson.
“How it’s working right now, if an individual calls Calvary Baptist Church, we tag them under our name, and we oversee the delivery. It is the same for each church, if the individual calls Cornerstone Christian Fellowship, they oversee delivery. If the individual calls New Life Assembly, they oversee delivery,” Krahn commented.
“Regarding the response of those receiving hampers, in some of our experiences you have people overwhelmed with excitement. We’ve also had some people breaking down and crying. This is because of the lack of food in their own home, oftentimes people are saying it’s so nice to know that people care. And so, we get to be a part of that and the community needs to know that they’re a part of that, through the donation of food or a monetary donation, they’re a part of caring for these families, so it’s really appreciated,” Krahn said.
The Sioux Lookout Food Bank is currently operating out of the old Good News Book Store location behind Cornerstone Christian Fellowship.
Krahn is asking for the community’s patience as the fledgling Board and its volunteers finds their feet in operating the service.
“As we get more structured. We want to hire a part-time manager that can coordinate volunteers. Right now each church is doing some things but when we get a part-time manager then we’ll really be ready to incorporate lots more volunteers from the community,” Burkholder stated.
He added, “We’re partnering with the (Nishnawbe-Gamik) Friendship Centre to do fresh produce hampers. It’s a one-year pilot project by the Friendship Centre. They have the connections and we’re doing the distribution.”
The Board thanked Fresh Market Foods for their support and donations to the food bank.
People can make monetary donations to support the Sioux Lookout Food Bank using the email address [email protected]
Currently Cheques can be made out to Sioux Lookout Out of the Cold Program and be mailed to Sioux Lookout Food Bank Box 674 Sioux Lookout ON P8T 1B1.
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