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Estevan helps to Stamp out Hunger

With the strong support from the community, the Estevan Salvation Army and Canada Post were able to collect about 1,800 pounds of food.
Salvation Army Food drive 2022
Salvation Army employees and volunteers were busy organizing food donations during the Canada Post and Estevan Salvation Army's Stamp out Hunger food drive.

ESTEVAN - After two years of changed formats and with steadily growing demand for support, the Estevan Salvation Army and Canada Post hosted a successful Stamp out Hunger food drive on June 11.

With the strong support from the community, they were able to collect about 1,800 pounds of food.

"The drive was really good. It was nice to have it back after missing it for a couple of years. And the community was really good," said Ronza Reynard, the local director of the ministry.

She added that they had food coming in not only on the day of the drive but also in the following days, when people who missed the original event brought in some more donations. And that was heartwarming, as they see a high demand for help in this area.

"To have about 1,800 pounds is really good going into the summer months. Right now we're feeding about 200 people a month with the food bank. And that number is a little high. But times are tough right now for everybody. And so if people need a little extra help, and they're accessing the food bank, that's great. And it's great that we have people in our community that are able to help us with either food or monetary donations. Either way works, whether we do the shopping, or they're doing the shopping. It's just people helping people in the community," Reynard said.

Last year the Salvation Army and Canada Post had a flyer campaign, which brought in some donations. But Reynard said that doing the food drive more traditionally attracted better support from the community. 

"Doing it this way, we get a much bigger response. Having people put it out on their doorsteps and having Canada Post employees pick it up, makes it a better food drive. And we noticed that. We're just thankful to start getting these things back to our normal," Reynard said.

The food drive is one of several Salvation Army campaigns that saw the return to normal. They also will be sending kids to camp this summer once again, as they used to before the pandemic. And they wouldn't be able to provide the support that they do without the community.

"The support of the community has been wonderful for us, not just at the food bank, but in general over the last couple of years. They've always been very faithful and helping the Salvation Army. And during the pandemic, it was wonderful. People continue to give, those who can, because they know they're helping out their neighbours. So, we're very thankful that we have such a generous community that sees what we're doing, sees the value in it and is willing to come along and partner with us," Reynard said.

She added that a couple of years ago, they would help about 130 people on regular basis. The pandemic pumped this number up, and now with growing prices, they see even more residents reaching out for help.

"We're seeing the increase [in demand for our services]. And people are still working, or they're on pensions, and that dollar is the same dollar, but there's so much more expense to just going to the grocery store … I mean, you can go to the grocery store, spend $100 and come home thinking is that it?" Reynard explained. "It's just really a tough situation right now for a lot of people in our communities. And if we can help in some way, then that's what we want to do. We want to be able to help the people in the community."

The food drive helped to restock the shelves at the food bank for now.

They also changed their approach to food distribution a few months ago to decrease food waste and to be able to support as many people as may need that help.

Before, the Salvation Army would supply their patrons with similar food hampers of different sizes that depended on the number of family members. Now they try to go off the personal demands.

"We're making a few changes in our food bank. Right now, we're doing a grocery list kind of model where the client will phone us, and they will tell us what it is they're looking for. And we tell them what we have. We're hoping in the fall to go to a [full] grocery store model, where the client will come in and have a point system, and then they can just pick," Reynard explained. "Essentially, they're doing the same thing right now, but they're doing it from a list. And then in the fall, we're hoping that we'd be able to have a person come in with a volunteer or staff, walk through the food bank, pick directly off the shelf and then help pack their own hamper."

So far, patrons refer to a list of everything the food bank has to fill their hampers.

"People are just embracing it. I think it gives them a little more sense of dignity, that they can pick what they want, what their family wants. We see a lot less food waste, which is very important right now with the cost of food … And every bit we can save can go to another family who will use it, as opposed to just giving it to them and they take it home and let it expire in their cupboards. So it makes all of our donations go that much further. Whether that be food or monetary, we can stretch that dollar a little further," Reynard said.

She also noted that they saw less expired food submitted for the food drive, which is a good thing as well. They can't use expired food, and if it comes as a donation, they have to put it in garbage.