Officials with the London and Area Food Bank say they’re confident this year’s Thanksgiving food drive tally will surpass last year’s.
Speaking with AM980 on Tuesday, Food Bank Co-Executive Director Glen Pearson called this year’s drive a “smashing success” and said about 54,757 pounds of food had been collected by the end of Monday, a bump of about 28 per cent compared to the same time last year. The amount is about 23 per cent shy of last year’s 71,000 pound total.
“We don’t try and set targets for people, we just let them know what we got the year before,” Pearson said. “We thought this year would be much the same (as last year). It ended up not being that, it ended up being much more. I think part of that was many of the volunteers who were in grocery stores, or the people who work in grocery stores, were saying people seemed a lot more keen this year.”
Nicer weather, a lack of an election, and increased media coverage on issues related to poverty likely helped boost donation levels, Pearson said.
“The London Community Foundation gave its vital signs announcement about mental health and poverty. There’s a group called ‘Poverty Over London’ who, for months now, has been putting out all the stuff out on social media, details about poverty and others,” Pearson said. “That sets a context for the food drive. Usually the food drive is just existing by itself, and working and trying to get Londoners to listen. This year there were lots of other people helping, and that really made a difference.”
Pearson says he also heard from many people about the drive’s One Bag Challenge, where residents were encouraged to fill a bag full of food and post it to social media, challenging five of their friends to do the same.
“We didn’t try and make that the full thrust of the drive, but it definitely was something, because it’s been going across the country that captured people’s interest, and that benefited the food drive as well, there’s no question,” Pearson said.
To help businesses and schools who couldn’t deliver their collected food until this week, Londoners can still drop off items at grocery stores, firehalls, or at the Food Bank itself over the next two days, Pearson said.
A final tally for the 10-day 28th annual Thanksgiving food drive will be released later in the week.
About 60 per cent of the food collected through the drive will be given to other community agencies.