Donations of food are a popular choice at this time of year, but food banks are also happy to receive a type of non-perishable donation: money.
“We like both,” said Gail Nyberg, executive director of Daily Bread Food Bank, which supplies food to local organizations for distribution. “Money is certainly easier to deal with, so then we can pay bills and buy food at wholesale prices.”
With Daily Bread serving around 40,000 hampers of food a month, buying in bulk is efficient and can save money.
Donations of money can also help food banks allocate specific amounts of money to specific things. For example, they can buy baby formula for families in need, because that is not a commonly donated item.
Though some people are skeptical about giving money because they worry about what it will be used to buy, the donor still has a choice.
“We have an option at Daily Bread that you can choose to say that my money can only be used for the purpose of food,” Nyberg said.
Mary Zahariadis-Hart has been donating food at Thanksgiving and Christmas for 10 years. She likes the idea of donating money, but said it’s a lot harder to find extra cash than extra food in her overstocked pantry.
“For families who want to donate, like us, I think the tangible canned-good donation is better,” Zahariadis-Hart said. “Chances are, families (find it) easier to be charitable with food they already have versus a cash donation.”
Alicia Dellegrazie has been using food banks for 12 years. She started visiting Bethany Baptist Church on Pape Avenue for food almost four years ago and volunteers there as well. Donations of money aren’t something they’re used to, she said, but can help the food bank meet specific needs.
“It doesn’t happen often, but when it does, we are very thankful,” she said.
Bethany Baptist Church serves around 100 people every Thursday, and it’ll only get busier as the holidays approach and the weather grows colder.
“A lot of the food banks in the area have closed, like (the one) by Pape station, so everybody is starting to come here,” Dellegrazie said.
With more people coming to Bethany Baptist Church for food, support is growing, too. They receive a lot of non-perishables from local residents. The Daily Bread Food Bank gives them milk, cheese and vegetables. Canadian Tire and the local police department donate toys and money during the holiday season.
For people in need, whatever type of donation someone can give — money, food or gift cards — goes a long way.
“We owe it to our community to support each other in need,” Zahariadis-Hart said. “You never know when you’ll need help.”