On the morning of December 20, 2017, the Hawkesbury Central Food Bank and its volunteers were getting ready to make their first delivery of food baskets. Volunteers lined up more than 500 food baskets, ready to bring a little warmth to Hawkesbury families in need. Unfortunately, even though the number of baskets keeps growing every year, the Hawkesbury Central Food Bank is still scrounging for donations and facing the challenges that come with a lack of government support aside from $6,000 given by the town.

“This year, we have 50 families, 50 single parent families, 50 adult couples and 170 single adults who will be receiving food baskets. In total we’re looking at about 500 baskets being distributed to these families. It’s a major operation that requires the devotion of many volunteers and donors,” said Robert Lefebvre, member of the food bank’s board.

“The total cost for all these food baskets is between $27,000 and $30,000. We compete for donations with other organizations, so our donations are lower this year. But as long as the people are being served, we’re happy. The Hawkesbury Food Bank serves more than 470 people monthly.”

A Review article published in September pointed out that Hawkesbury, according to Statistics Canada, is listed among some of the poorest municipalities in the country. But for Robert Lefebvre, statistics don’t show the full picture. Hawkesbury’s rank being among the poorest in the country doesn’t take into account the realities the town faces.

“Hawkesbury is the only urban centre situated in a 30-km radius, so people with low or no income live within the city boundaries to be close to all the social services Hawkesbury offers. To classify Hawkesbury as the poorest city is a bit intellectually dishonest; we have plenty of people living around Hawkesbury using the town as their hub. So there is some purchasing power for Hawkesbury, though the majority isn’t living within the town’s boundaries,” explained Lefebvre.

The Hawkesbury Central Food Bank is operating on a minuscule budget and faces growing needs every year. The Review has reported on how the Quebec side of the river deals with food security: they have central organizations for each MRC called Moissons, which have the logistics and equipment to take on the demand. Regional organizations need only send in their requests and Moissons deliver. Though they have their own fair share of organizational challenges, Moissons benefit from having a larger procurement system and storage facility.

With growing needs in the community, Hawkesbury Central Food Bank may require more support in the future. This past Christmas, at least, the food bank succeeded in their mission of support: hundreds of people were able to enjoy a hearty meal thanks to the hard work of a handful of volunteers.