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Local food bank takes part in national movement

Infographic by Dariya Baiguzhiyeva, QNet News

By Dariya Baiguzhiyeva [1]

BELLEVILLE – Food banks across Canada, including Belleville’s Gleaners Food Bank, [2] have come together to mark Hunger Awareness Week [3].

The national event started Monday and runs until Friday. Its goal is to raise awareness of hunger issues and the role that food banks play in solving the problem.

Sarah Kring, Gleaners’ volunteer co-ordinator, said there is still stigma around using food banks.

“There is still … shame and embarrassment (about) having to access the programs here,” she said. But “one of the things that people don’t realize is that hunger in Canada can be anybody – it can definitely be your neighbour.”

Sometimes people who least expect it can find themselves needing the service, she said.

“We have had a couple of people who were able to donate five years ago and now they’re in a situation where they actually need assistance.”

As part of Hunger Awareness Week, the food bank participated in a campaign called Share Your Thoughts, in which staff and volunteers used social media to talk about hunger issues.

Social media, Kring said, “100 per cent” helps to raise awareness. 

“The more we post, the more people we are connected to, the greater awareness comes out,” she said. “And it definitely helps us with our campaign – and we get to share things from the other food banks and social-media stories.”

This month Gleaners also hosted a an event called the MPP Food Store. Belleville Mayor Taso Christopher, along with Prince Edward-Hastings MPP Todd Smith and representatives of Shorelines Casino came to help sort donations to the food bank and spread the word about hungry people in this area.

“We have a fantastic community in Belleville,” Kring said, adding that Gleaners has a significant number of donors.

“We have a lot of support from our local schools, our local health care. We have tons of school groups or summer camps that do food drives for us.”

Kring encourages people to go to local food banks to learn more about what they do and the issue of hunger.