Over £117,000 has been donated to the Autumn 2022 meals drive: London Meals Financial institution – London

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Note: Shortly after this article was published, the London Food Bank released an updated final balance sheet for the food campaign. The article has been updated to reflect this new number.

Despite the growing financial pressure on their wallets, the London Food Bank says local residents have taken a lot of their time for the autumn 2022 food drive and have donated around £117,496 worth of food.

The fall food campaign began on September 30th and officially ended on Thanksgiving Monday.

More than £76,600, 66 percent of the total, came in the form of physical food donations, while more than £39,200 came in cash donations, with a $3.21 donation equivalent to a pound of food, the food bank says.

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“We had expected a dent, that’s for sure. Part of that was because we said to people, ‘Don’t worry about donations this year if you don’t have one,'” said Glen Pearson, co-executive director of the food bank.

“It didn’t work that way from the start. It started getting bigger and bigger than last year and it just kept rolling,” he continued.

“That was definitely not to be expected. Like I said today, we were wrong and we loved it. It was wonderful that the public and the business community responded in this way.”

The final tally far exceeds that during the Autumn 2021 drive, when a total of £79,021 worth of food was collected.

In contrast to this year, the majority of the pound raised during the 2021 campaign, 59 per cent, came in the form of cash donations due to the COVID-19 pandemic, with a donation of $2.60 equivalent to one pound.

“We thought food donations would increase this year, and that’s exactly what happened,” Pearson said.

“The good thing is that there is commitment there. For example, we had volunteers in grocery stores handing out bags. There were people who came to the food bank to sort through all the food supplies that had come in. …Londoners all came together on different levels during this food drive that hadn’t really happened during COVID.”

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The successful food drive comes amid the busiest time in the history of the food bank, with about 4,000 families walking through the food bank’s doors each month, Pearson says. The agency’s busiest three months are all within the last four months.

At least 23,157 distinct individuals, or 9,271 households, have used the services of the Tafel at least once this year, a 41 percent increase from the same period in 2021. About 28 percent of all households that have been helped this year are new to of the panel, up from 18 percent in 2021.

The increased demand comes as food prices and other everyday costs continue to rise due to inflation.

In August, the country’s annual inflation rate slowed to 7.0 percent, driven by a fall in gasoline prices. However, food inflation hit 10.8 percent year-on-year — the fastest rise in food prices since 1981, according to Statistics Canada.

In addition to looking after its own customers, the Tafel also supports around 30 other local agencies on an ongoing basis. Of the pounds raised for this year’s ride, about 60 percent will go to these other local agencies, Pearson said.

“We’ll probably be doing more of these this year because I think they’re really struggling with all that’s going on and maybe they don’t quite have the reach that the London Food Bank has. … So we’re committed to helping them,” Pearson said.

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Heading into the new year, Pearson says he anticipates the food bank will continue to see record demand from the community, adding that there likely won’t be any relief for the agency or society at large any time soon.

Several food banks across Canada, he says, have either closed or suspended operations due to the strain.

“We have been in contact with some ministers of the federal cabinet as well as some ministers of the provincial cabinet. We were also in touch with the head of the Bank of Canada and others as a food bank. … They all told us to expect rougher times,” he said.

“I just don’t think it’s going to be easy, and plaques have to be there. Food banks simply cannot rely on food donations to help them do this. We have to rely on other things to make sure the food is there so we can help other organizations. We assume that our larger numbers are yet to come.”

For more information on how to donate to the food bank, visit the London Food Bank website.

© 2022 Global News, a division of Corus Entertainment Inc.

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