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Thinking of others during the holidays


A Northumberland food-advocacy group is encouraging local residents to make a gift for someone who may not be on their shopping lists.

Donations of money and healthy food items to local food banks can make a difference in supporting those who may not otherwise be able to put food on their tables, Food Access Northumberland spokeswoman Kimberly Leadbeater said.

“In the lead-up to the holiday season, when many people are gearing up to buy gifts for loved ones, we have to realize that some individuals in our community are more concerned about their day-to-day ability to find food for their families,” Leadbeater said.

"Including a healthy donation for food banks in your holiday gift-giving helps ensure everyone in Northumberland has enough to eat this holiday season.”

A recent survey released by Food Banks Canada said that the number of Canadians turning to food banks is at an all-time high. In a typical month, food banks across the country provide food to 882,000 people, nearly half of whom live in Ontario. Many food banks typically see an increase in demand for their services over the holiday season.

To meet the rising demand, Leadbeater (who is a registered dietician with the health unit) encourages local residents to consider supporting local food banks in different ways.

• Instead of exchanging gifts with coworkers, consider making a food-bank donation on behalf of the entire work place.

• Families doing their shopping might pick up a few extra items at the grocery store to donate to the food bank of their choice.

• Shoppers looking for a different kind of gift for someone might consider making a donation to a local food bank in that person's name.

People can find out details about the food banks in their community by calling Info Northumberland at 905-372- 8913 or 1-800-396-6626. They can also find out what food items are most needed.

Healthy food items to consider donating include canned vegetables and fruit, tomato sauce, canned tuna and salmon, peanut butter, and whole-grain products such as rice, cereal and pasta. New, unopened toiletries such as toothpaste, shampoo, soap, toilet paper and deodorant are also needed.

Before donating anything to a food bank, Leadbeater encourages people to check best-before and expiry dates on products, and make sure food items are properly labeled, fully sealed and appear in good shape.

“Use a common-sense approach for any food-bank donation. If you would not be willing to feed the item to your family, why donate it to others?” she said. “If you are not sure what food item to donate, consider giving a financial donation rather than food.”

Another option is to donate money to the Food4All warehouse (, a central facility which can purchase food products and perishable items in bulk to distribute to food banks and programs throughout the county.

Food Access Northumberland (FAN) is a community-based partnership that supports, develops and co-ordinates programs and services to help people get the food they need. Its membership includes people who use local food programs, as well as representatives from the Salvation Army, local food banks, Neighbourlink Northumberland, Haliburton, Kawartha, Pine Ridge District Health Unit, Northumberland Food 4 All, Northumberland Community and Social Services Children Service,s and Northumberland Child Development Centre.

Food Access also receives support from the Northumberland United Way and The Help Centre of Northumberland.

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