Leave your grocery donations on your porch this weekend, and Newark Neighbors will do the rest.

The Niagara-on-the-Lake Food Bank is partnering with the Rotary Club of Niagara on the Lake to host a community fundraising project over the weekend of May 15-16, where volunteers will come to your home and collect the food a contactless pickup.

“We continue to be grateful to the vast numbers of individuals and organizations across town for their extremely generous support of our Thanksgiving and Christmas programs,” said Cindy Grant, manager of the grocery bank. “Simultaneously with the further increase in our customer numbers, however, the offer has decreased.”

In the past nine months during the pandemic, the NOTL food bank has seen customer registrations increase by over 40 percent. Grant said they serve 59 client families consisting of 106 people. Of the 106 people, 33 are children of various ages.

The increased demand comes at a time when the Niagara unemployment rate remains well above the national total. In April, Niagara had an unemployment rate of 11.7 percent compared to 8.1 percent for the whole of Canada. The region recorded a decline of 0.5 percent compared to the previous month.

Since the pandemic began, Newark Neighbors has kept its grocery bank running on Tuesdays and Thursdays with a core team of five volunteers. The adjoining second-hand shop has remained closed, however.

“The primary goal of the thrift business is to help the grocery bank,” Grant said. “This put more pressure on the program.”

Rotary club members will conduct all porch pickups for the community fundraising project while wearing masks, gloves, and observing physical distance restrictions.

Those interested in donating are asked to call 905-468-7498 or email [email protected] to register their pick-up address and their preferred pick-up date (15th or May 16). Volunteers will arrive between 10 a.m. and 3 p.m. on both days.

The long list of items Newark Neighbors needs right now – from canned foods to snacks to bottled juices and condiments – can be found on the grocery bank’s website at newarkneighbours.ca.

Items that the grocery bank is well stocked with include canned tuna, filling mixes, oatmeal, tomato sauce, cranberry sauce, noodles, and canned corn.

Those hoping to donate to the thrift store are asked to keep their items until they can be reopened.

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