By Dave Flaherty/The Oshawa Express
Feed The Need in Durham is issuing a challenge to local businesses throughout the month of August.
Durham’s largest food distribution centre, along with the Whitby Chamber of Commerce, the Clarington Board of Trade and Ajax-Pickering Board of Trade, have launched the fourth annual Durham Region Business Food Drive Challenge.
Feed The Need in Durham outreach coordinator Roby McKinnon says the goal of the challenge is to collect 30,000 pounds of food, equal to about 36,000 meals.
“We talked amongst some of the participating organizations and set a number of goals, that’s where [the number] sort of came together,” McKinnon says. “It’s a bit high, but shoot for the moon and land on the stars.”
The challenge was initially a partnership between FTND and the Whitby chamber, but is open to all businesses across Durham Region this year.
“They don’t have to be a chamber member to be involved,” McKinnon notes.
Twenty-five local businesses and organizations have already pledged support, ranging from substantial corporations such as OPG to smaller local stores.
“OPG has a lot of employees so they could make a big impact, but every little bit helps, so a smaller groups can make an impact as well,” McKinnon told the Oshawa Express.
Aside from helping their fellow residents, getting involved with the challenge is an effective way to build camaraderie and team skills.
“What we really focus on is the challenge, because everyone likes a bit of a friendly-challenge,” McKinnon explains.
Donations can be brought to one of 10 drop-off locations across the region, including two in Oshawa at The Foley Group (319 College Avenue) and the Sutton Group – Heritage Reality Inc. (14 Gibbon Street).
A complete list of drop-off locations can be found at feedtheneedindurham.ca
Donations can also be dropped off directly at Feed The Need in Durham’s warehouse, located at 371 Marwood Drive, Unit A in Oshawa.
McKinnon says the ambitious campaign is timely because there is a significant increase in need and a drop in donations over the summer months.
“Schools are closed, so in-school programs are closed. Families are also paying for camp and daycare, so families that rely on the school programs are heavily involved with the food bank,” she says. “Also, people are in vacation or holiday mode, and donating to food banks is not always top of mind.”
For those who may not have the time to collect food items, monetary donations are also welcomed, McKinnon says.
She notes that for every $1 dollar of funding Feed The Need in Durham receives, they are able to collect, store and distribute $7 worth of food.
Feed The Need In Durham works with 62 food providers across the region.
In 2017, they distributed 1.2 million pounds (with a value of $3 million) of food to approximately 15,000 individuals, nearly 40 per cent of whom are children.
Donations of all kinds are graciously accepted, but McKinnon says they have an urgent need for canned fruits, vegetables, and meats, peanut butter and dry pasta.
“Those are always the top needed items,” she says.
When the challenge wraps up, the organization welcomes donors to a celebration event, which includes tours of their warehouse.
For more information, visit feedtheneedurham.ca or facebook.com/events/1038343266319646