Donations help food bank shelves stay full

A donation of $6,000 to the Neepawa Food Bank by pork producer HyLife came at just the right time, says community ministries director Amanda Naughton-Gale.

“Everybody is struggling. Inflation is sure pinching those who are able to make donations,” she said. “It came at a really good time.”

The food bank was looking “kind of dire,” even after its food drive at the end of October. The HyLife donation has not only helped the charitable organization to prepare for the holidays but to look into the future as well.

The Boissevain Area Food Pantry received a $2,000 donation from HyLife. With its clientele growing constantly, Donna Fraser, chairperson of the food pantry, said the money will go toward buying non-perishable items and meat products for food-insecure families and individuals in the community.

“To supply our clients even with some [meat] every two weeks is a help,” Fraser said. “Without these additional funds, there’s no way that could happen.”

Both donations were part of the second annual HyLife Holiday Helpers company food drive, which Sheldon Scott, senior director of corporate sustainability, said was hugely successful.

“We’re really pleased at the outcome of this year’s Holiday Helpers campaign, as well as having additional funds from our HyLife Fun Days to be able to give back to these communities and to those in need,” Scott said.

As the Sun previously reported, the company wrapped up its HyLife 2022 Fun Days, a fundraising initiative featuring sports, food and entertainment in various communities, by donating more than $170,000 to charities in Manitoba and the United States. The Killarney Food Bank and the Neepawa Kin Club both received donations of $40,000 in October.

As part of the Holiday Helpers campaign, HyLife employees also donated more than 2,400 non-perishable items to local food banks. In total, $50,000 was shared with community organizations during December.

Other Westman organizations that received donations include Virden Area Food Cupboard, Deloraine and Area Community Food Cupboard, Souris and Area Harvest Food Bank, Minnedosa and Area Food Bank Inc., Gladstone Community Food Cupboard, Carberry Food Cupboard and Killarney School Breakfast Club, all of which received $2,000.

“The donation really was a bit of a surprise,” said Laurel McConnell with Gladstone Community Food Cupboard. “I nearly cried. It is a massive, massive donation for us.”

The $2,000 donation will go primarily toward stocking the food cupboard’s shelves going into the new year.

“It just makes it possible for us to continue to meet the need for a lot longer. It was outrageously generous and really, really appreciated.”

Killarney School Breakfast Club is offered to all students five days a week, and also supplements students who don’t have enough food at lunchtime, said principal Erica Hilhorst.

“Since the start of COVID-19, we’ve noticed that our numbers have increased significantly,” Hilhorst said. “The biggest thing we’re finding is families just don’t have as much available to them.”

The program costs the school about $500 per month to run, and is free for any student who makes use of it. The $2,000 donation from HyLife will go a long way towards feeding hungry children, Hilhorst said.

“Anything that we are able to receive helps the program … and it all goes directly into the kid’s food supply.”

Food banks and other community organizations rely on the generosity of others, Scott said.

“Some of these are small food banks that don’t see these types of donations on an ongoing basis, and they were really overwhelmed. It was really fulfilling,” Scott said, “and it’s something we want to continue doing.”

Miranda Leybourne, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, Brandon Sun