Drive brought in 10,000 pounds of food for local people in need

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The economic spin-off affects associated with the layoffs at Siemens announced last July is already impacting the town of Tillsonburg, says the co-ordinator of one of its local food banks.

“When Siemens closed people stopped buying Timmies (coffee) or extras at the grocery story,” explained Joan Clarkson, who runs Helping Hand Food Bank. “It’s having an impact on businesses in town — but not mine.”

Clarkson considered Saturday the biggest day of the year for the organization, with 17 drivers collecting food off porches across the town that will last the agency through Christmas and spring.

All total last year several drives collected 25,000 pounds of food.

“But this year I am nervous — food costs so much more (this year),” she said, before final calculations showed a total of 10,000 pounds of food were collected.

However, Clarkson said the community, its businesses and churches have always been exceedingly generous.

“I have never met with anything except wonderful support,” she said.

While many families are utilizing the bank, the numbers of single people has recently risen from 30 to 45 per cent of food bank users.

“A lot of them are on disability, Ontario Works, or some on nothing,” she said.

Last Christmas the agency handed out over 3,500 grocery carts full of food to local residents in need.

She said the agency, established in 1992, is very careful about who gets what.

“Everyone is screened, no one is handed food,” she said. “We respect very much food given to us and don’t hand it out willy-nilly.”

Over the years, Clarkson said, there is one strategy that has worked well for her.

“The more I give out the more of it that seems to come in through the door,” she said. “Everyone knows someone who has had some trouble — that’s what we are here for.”

HRivers@postmedia.com

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