In the early days of King Township Food Bank (2004), a week of groceries in the form of preboxed food was offered along with $10 per person to help with milk and eggs.Why a week? Other social agency resources, community meals, along with public transit, are scarce in this relatively sparsely populated area. Pet kibble was added when it was noted that people feed their pets before they feed themselves, and bathroom tissue was included because bulk packs are so much cheaper than the individual rolls that people on a tight budget have to purchase. As word spread, numbers grew out of step with food donations, and a Web Sponsorship program was developed in 2009 to provide the funds to purchase food.
Over the years, from time to time vegetables were offered through personal and in kind donations. To mark 10 years, the Food Bank Board decided to make it a policy to include fresh fruit and vegetables. This caused some financial stress, and so the Food Bank started its annual Sip & Savour to balance the budget. Hillside Farms stepped up with a pledge of year round vegetables, including onions, carrots, beets and parsnips (supplemented with cauliflower and celery in season). Some of these were greeted with wariness in the beginning, but as attendees traded recipes and information, popularity grew and so did the monthly ‘order’ requested from Hillside. Now, only fruit needed to be purchased, which helped greatly.
The same year, the option of food cards was introduced. At this point, about 75% of the boxed food was being purchased, and there was serious logic attached to offering food cards for people to do their own shopping in addition to the notion of giving dignity, not charity, to those who preferred the independence of choosing. Of course, at full retail, the boxed food is infinitely better value. Food cards in lieu were calculated on the basis of what the Food Bank was paying for the food, using the deeply discounted front page prices. About 80% of registrants opted for the cards, and that number remains pretty much the same today.
Two years later, numbers spiked by 25%, and there was a huge imbalance of food vs. funds by year end. Early in 2017, registrants were returned to preboxed food, with the exception of those who had special dietary needs. Only a month, and we had redressed the balance, and all returned to the usual mode by late Spring. But the budget required the Food Bank to raise $40,000 through Sip & Savour. With increased attendance, generous sponsorships and a record breaking Auction, the target was met.
As the year drew to a close, unusually large donations came in, putting the King Township Food Bank into a comfortable bank balance. Again and again, deepest thanks go to the community…and beyond…for responding to the call to keep the organization in the black. As a totally independent, volunteer organization, there can be no ‘red’.
Through it all, the small organizing committee that became a Board with incorporation and Charitable registration, has worked diligently, along with over 20 committed volunteers.
As a working Board, Directors have come and gone, giving their fine talents and professional expertise to move the project along from year to year. The positions have been fairly demanding; difficult for someone with a career to manage, let alone family considerations. The areas of fundraising and marketing/promotion are the most demanding, although that can be mitigated with the presence of committed volunteers to undertake the components, such as Web Sponsorship, Event management, Community Liaison, Website & Social Media management, and Promotion coordination. Most of these areas are quite mature, and it’s largely a matter of maintenance rather than creation.
The time has come to develop a Strategic Plan, as they call it. Actually, examining the structure, scope, and number of board positions and identifying ways of replacement over time is a more precise way to identify the project for 2018. This has been identified as a need in the past, but has assumed the number one priority for 2018.
King Township Food Bank is looking for passionate and committed people to assume responsibilities at both the Board level and ‘component’ level. All areas are open for scrutiny, and if you would like to join in this project to ensure sustainability, please speak to any current Board member, or call Carol Ann at 416-559-7898 or through the Food Bank at firstname.lastname@example.org and 905-806-1125.