The London Meals Financial institution is pushing for final minute donations on the ultimate day of Spring Meals Drive – London

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With hours still left for its annual Spring Food Drive, the London Food Bank is making one last push for community donations and finds that thousands more have already been raised compared to last year’s campaign.

Late Monday morning, the food bank said its 35th annual spring campaign raised around £60,000 worth of food in cash and in kind donations, a figure around £8,000 more than last year’s campaign at the same time.

It remains to be seen what the final balance sheet of the campaign will be. The ride officially ends on Monday, and a confirmed total is expected on Wednesday after the last remaining pickups have been made and counted.

“We thought London would be the same as last year, but given the times this year – inflation, food prices, rent prices, housing prices,” said the food bank’s co-executive director Glen Pearson.

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“Many Londoners could have many good reasons why they weren’t able to donate as much this year… but they have surpassed what they did this time last year. I think that really says something about London.”

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As of Monday, Pearson said the campaign had raised approximately $61,400 in cash donations from the community. According to Food Banks Canada, a $2.60 donation is equivalent to one pound of food, meaning the amount raised is equivalent to nearly £24,000.

Pearson said that although financial donations are down slightly from the spring 2021 campaign, food donations have increased, likely due to the campaign not being virtual like the previous two promotions.

Although donations have increased compared to last year, demand for the Tafel’s services and the services of the agencies that the Tafel serves has also increased, Pearson said.

“Right now we’re helping about 40 agencies on a continuous basis, and then there are a number of other situations that we help whenever it’s needed,” he said. Around 70 percent of the pounds raised go to these agencies.

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“If you add it all up, we’re helping 9,000 people a month directly at the Tafel, but we’re helping (another) 12,000 people a month through all of these other organizations that we provide food to.”

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A focus of this year’s campaign is to support incoming refugees fleeing Ukraine after Russia’s unprovoked invasion.

“We don’t know exactly when they’re coming, we’ve been told it will be soon,” Pearson said.

“But there are groups like the Cross-Cultural Learning Centre, there are churches, faith groups … they will welcome these Ukrainian refugees into their midst and people will need help with eating.”

Monetary donations specific to the Ukrainian refugee relief efforts can be made through the food bank website.

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The impetus comes as Londoners and people across the country grapple with soaring prices for food, housing and rent.

Although Canada’s economy has risen above pre-pandemic levels and the local unemployment rate has been at a pandemic-low of 5.3 percent over the past month, demand for the tablet is at an all-time high, Pearson said.

About a quarter of visits to the food bank involve people new to the agency, the food bank said in a Facebook post earlier this month, noting that the number has been “traditionally less than half” for more than three decades .

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“Last year people were still getting things like CERB and things like that…. A lot of that is gone now, so people are on their own trying to make it, and it’s been really, really difficult,” Pearson said.

“The big change was the rent. That drives everything,” he said.

The average rent for a private two-bedroom apartment in London was $1,275 in October 2021, up about three percent from 2020, according to the Canada Mortgage and Housing Corporation. For two-bedroom condos, the average was $1,537.

“Around the community level, families are in real need. Some of them work for minimum wage. Others are people who participate in the ODSP (Ontario Disability Support Program). Other people have seen their rents go up 40 percent since that time last year,” Pearson said.

“Like what are they going to do? And that’s why the table is there, but that’s why the demand for us is particularly high. It has never been this high.”

Visit the London Food Bank website for more information on how to donate.

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