Ask where the food bank is in any Scandinavian city and they’ll look at you like you’re from outer space.
That’s according to Dr. Chris Mackie, London’s medical officer of health and the newest ally of the London Food Bank.
He was at the bank off Adelaide Street South Thursday (Oct. 2) to help co-directors Glen Pearson and Jane Roy kick off this year’s Thanksgiving Food Drive, which runs until Oct. 13.
He was there to say the Norwegians are right. There are no food banks there because their food support system is so well set up they don’t need a secondary place to stock items, and that’s how it should be in London.
“Food is one of the major links between poverty and health, and why (people without access to proper nutrition) have lower life expectancies,” he said. “It’s a marker that the system is failing the most vulnerable, not maintaining the health of the population and putting the public at risk.”
He said he’s encouraged by the Food Bank’s move to collect more fresh and frozen fruits and vegetables and improve the nutritive value of the food they distribute to the more than 3,600 families that access the bank each month.
“This Thanksgiving, be thankful by thinking about people who don’t have what you have.”
Pearson said big news stemming from their announcement half a year ago that the Food Bank intends to phase out its storefront operation and tackle game-changing approaches to the roots of poverty will come next week.
“It’s the beginning of change,” he said. “Led by (new friends like) Chris and with traditional voices like myself and Jane, the time has come to acknowledge that as a city we need to do better with food.”
Roy said all donations are welcome but she urges Londoners to bring fresh or frozen food directly to the Bank at 926 Leathorne Street (a right turn just north of Commissioners and Adelaide) and to think about leaving higher quality non-perishables at area grocery stores and all 14 London fire halls, where donations are accepted year-round.
“We don’t know how this fall and winter is going to go,” she said. “If it’s a hard winter, heat and hydro bills go up and the food budget is usually affected. We like to see this drive as the start of the giving season through to Christmas.”
For a list of high-demand items, including baby formula and diapers, canned fish and meat, vegetables and pasta, visit the London Food Bank’s Facebook page (and follow them @LondonFoodBank1).
Contact them via social media or email email@example.com to volunteer to hand out bags at grocery stores alongside high school students and the Knights of Columbus.