Food drive makes a huge difference to Community Food Share’s bottom line

WINCHESTER – Community Food Share, formerly known as the Dundas County Food Bank, ended last year in a much better financial position than planned, even though it experienced a five per cent increase in client visits.

Community Food Share’s annual general meeting was held Monday at the old council chambers in Winchester.

In 2016, 6,000 food hampers were provided to food share clients. The retail value of the food distributed was about $200,000.

About 58 per cent of hampers distributed were through the South Dundas food bank location in Morrisburg.

While the number of clients rose by five per cent, the number of children served by Community Food Share fell by about six per cent.

“We finished 2016 much better than we had anticipated, primarily due to a few food and fundraising events that positively affected our cash flow,” said Terry Triskle, CFS board chair.

Wendy Weagant, CFS treasurer reported that they actually finished 2016 with a $16,593 surplus.

“That’s really quite amazing,” said Weagant.

Especially considering the 2016 budget prediction was for a $13,750 loss.

Triskle went on to explain that the reason for the unpredicted surplus was a very successful food drive.

“We took a different approach by having a door-to-door Fill-a-Bag food drive rather than store-based food drives,” explained Ian McKelvie, CFS administrator. “The food drive was a huge success. The volunteers collected over 13,000 pounds of food,” he said.

With that success, McKelvie is already working to organize the 2017 Fill-a-Bag campaign.

Last year, 6,000 grocery bags to fill were distributed by volunteers to communities across Dundas County.

This year, McKelvie has 8,000 grocery bags ordered. This campaign will take place at the end of May.

Empty grocery bags will be distributed May 27th, and the bags full of food donations will be picked up June 3rd.

With the food items donated through Fill-a-Bag, significantly fewer food items needed to be purchased, having a positive impact on the bottom line.

Another positive influence on the bottom line was the CP Holiday Train stop in Finch which benefited the Community Food Share.

Along with collecting 2,398 pounds of food, $8,937 in cash donations was gathered from those in attendance, including a $4,000 donation from CP Rail.

The first Empty Bowls fundraiser was a sell out and a success, and will return again next year. The potters who handcrafted the bowls sold for the luncheon are already on board and are committed to making 150 bowls for the 2017 event.

Community Food Share has made two of five $9,000 loan payments to the Municipality of South Dundas towards the $45,000 interest-free loan to cover the cost of the Morrisburg relocation in May 2015.

They continued to fundraise to help payback the loan, as no donations intended for food go towards the loan repayments. Businesses, organizations and private individuals have donated to the relocation cost specifically. Those donations have amounted to $14,130 so far, with another $6,400 pledged over the next three years.

In 2016, Community Food Share successfully changed the food distribution model for the Morrisburg location from the food hamper method to the client choice model. With this success the Winchester location will also be changed to the client choice.