On May 12, Food Banks Canada released a COVID-19 impact report that encompassed all the provinces and territories. Throughout the pandemic, 4,751 communities were served, 34,274,242 pounds of food was donated, and $97,988,180 of financial support was raised.
Dave Blottner, executive director of the Whitehorse Food Bank, said he had mixed feelings when he saw the report.
“On one hand, it’s staggering how much aid was needed across Canada,” said Blottner. “It really speaks to how many people are food insecure across the country.
“On the other hand, there is some pride when you look at how generous Canadians were. It was a hard time for everyone. Canadians came out of the woodwork to make sure food banks could continue to operate and help those in need.”
Blottner said the Whitehorse Food Bank experienced that kindness firsthand.
“Businesses didn’t know if they could stay open but they were calling us to make sure we were able to stay open,” he said. “That generosity is something you don’t see many places.
“I’ve always been proud to be a Yukoner in that regard. We are a community that looks out for one another.”
Blottner said when the pandemic hit, the food bank had to up its services — magnifying food insecurity in the territory.
“We doubled the number of people we were serving and drastically expanded where we were serving as well,” said Blottner. “We started out COVID as the Whitehorse Food Bank and are now looking at being the Yukon Food Bank as we have been sending food to every community in the Yukon this past year.
“We think that the pandemic really shined a light on the food insecurity that was already rampant across the Yukon,” said Blottner. “COVID was kind of the straw that broke the camel’s back.”
Even when things return to “normal” Blottner said the food bank will keep serving the communities.
“Right now we are working with a number of communities on what that looks like going forward,” said Blottner. “And also, how we can work with them to create ideas within their community that is going to work with their communities specifically. There is no one set answer.”
The ultimate goal of the food bank? To put themselves out of business.
“We want to make sure nobody is going hungry,” said Blottner. “At the end of the day, if anybody needs food we are going to be there to help them. Then if we can help build sustainable practices and make sure folks can get by that is great too.”
Blottner said the food bank is always looking for volunteers whether in Whitehorse or the communities. If a person can’t volunteer, he said “anything you can give, we will make sure it gets to the people who need it.”
Contact John Tonin at firstname.lastname@example.org