Parking attendent Const. Francois Ouellet writes up a parking ticket, with an option to pay the fine in food donations, on the windshield of a vehicle in downtown Whitehorse on Dec. 6. (Crystal Schick/Yukon News)

Food for Fines in need of more canned goods

Cash and canned donations accepted for parking fines until Dec. 12

The executive director of the Whitehorse Food Bank isn’t crossing his fingers that you get a parking ticket this week, but if you do, he appreciates the effort.

“We’re very appreciative this time of year,” said Tristan Newsome.

Donations of non-perishable food items and cash will be accepted until Dec. 12 at city hall. Expired parking meter and two-hour zone ticket fines received between Dec. 1 and 8 are eligible.

Both food and cash donations will be split between the Whitehorse Food Bank and Kaushee’s Place.

Kyle Morrison, education constable with the City of Whitehorse, said the program is bringing in more financial than food donations this year, which is abnormal.

He said he’s hoping to see more canned goods coming in over the next few days, because that makes it faster and easier to get food into the hands of those who need it. Cash donations take longer to be processed, and then staff at the food bank and Kaushee’s have to go out and buy food.

Morrison says donations to the program increase each year.

In 2017, the total value of food and cash donations was $7,400, the total raised in 2016 was $5,500, and the 2015 total was $5,000.

Barbara McInerney, executive director of Kaushee’s Place, said Food for Fines offers the transition home relief from the rising cost of food, while also allowing the home to use what money it does have to cover other expenses.

“It supports us in supporting (women by) being able to find money for things like crafts and getting women transportation out of here.”

“Just to have so many people willingly participate in the program brings a lot of hope, to us as an organization, where sometimes there’s not.”

There aren’t many food donations throughout the year (sometimes mining camps donate at the end of their season), but December is a good month. In addition to Food for Fines, local companies and individual residents often donate to the home’s holiday dinner.

People also often donate gifts for women and children. McInerney said gift cards for phone minutes are useful for women, while gift cards for businesses such as Yukon and Qwanlin Cinemas are great for teens. Another much-appreciated donation is a pair of pajamas.

“Sometimes families come in at all hours of the night and may not have anything with them so pajamas are a big one … a warm, fuzzy, dignified thing to have,” she said.

McInerney said the food donations are used to make meals for the women and children staying in Kaushee’s emergency accommodation. It’s also used to make up gift baskets for the women living in the self-contained, independent apartments at the home.

She said the cash donation usually goes to a local butcher who prepares meat for Kaushee’s Place. She’s always amazed by the generosity.

So is Newsome. He said donations to the food bank tend to pick up as it’s getting colder in November, but the food goes so fast in December, that Food for Fines is a huge help.

“The food won’t last long,” he said. “Maybe a week or two. That said, it’s still great. It’s good to have that reprieve.”

He says the Food Bank is most in need of items such as tomato sauce, canned meats and canned fruit. if people want to donate something other than cash or food, he says they can donate time working over the holidays, when the Food Bank keeps business hours.

Morrison says the city will take donations to the Whitehorse Food Bank and Kaushee’s Place on Dec. 14.

Contact Amy Kenny at amy.kenny@yukon-news.com

Correction: A previous version of this story had inaccurate dates for the Food for Fines campaign. Donations of non-perishable food items and cash will be accepted until Dec. 12 at city hall. Expired parking meter and two-hour zone ticket fines received between Dec. 1 and 8 are eligible.

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