MUN food bank to reopen after 'huge donation' from volunteer team

Memorial University's food bank received a much needed boost in food donations for Halloween.  (Jennifer Browne/Twitter - image credit)
Memorial University's food bank received a much needed boost in food donations for Halloween. (Jennifer Browne/Twitter - image credit)
Jennifer Browne/Twitter
Jennifer Browne/Twitter

Memorial University's campus food bank received its own helping hand on Monday as volunteers took to the streets in search of donations in order to get the doors open again.

Last week the campus food bank had to close because there wasn't enough food on the shelves to help everyone in need.

"They went door to door collecting food items for the food bank and brought them straight to us late last night," Matt Pike, a volunteer coordinator for the food bank, told CBC News on Tuesday.

"It was a huge donation, four or five boxes and countless ... grocery bags. It was really, really a huge help for us for sure."

Last week, Pike told CBC News demand for the food bank doubled so far for this semester. This year the food bank served about 300 clients in September and 360 in October.

Running short on food supplies meant making the tough decision to close.

Pike said donations have been rolling in since news of the bank's closure made its rounds. The food bank plans to reopen on Thursday. It's typically open two days a week.

"We've also just received our monthly order. We order a number of our staple foods and pay for them with our budget," he said.

"It's not purely donated food items but the money we receive through donations we budget out and buy the things we need most."

Darrell Roberts/CBC
Darrell Roberts/CBC

As for monetary donations, he said the group is trying to spread out the funding to help budget for the next year.

"In terms of the food donations, what we got yesterday I would say would definitely get us open for an extra day or so at least," he said.

"It's tough to know exactly. Based on how many people we get, it's kind of unpredictable right now."

Pike said because the demand has increased so drastically, the food bank no longer operates on a first come, first serve basis where clients can pick what they need from the shelves.

To save time, pre-packed hampers are now the offering. The group is preparing as many as it can ahead of the reopening on Thursday.

"The most we've had, in one day I think, was over 100 and that's in a four-hour period. That's a lot of people. Surges like that push us to the point we have to close because we just weren't prepared for them," said Pike.

"We have student workers and volunteers who help us do that. Mostly what we're doing right now is just sorting through the donations and the shipment of our regular purchase."

Pike said the community has stepped up to help with food drives but some MUN departments have also hopped on board by pooling a few dollars and food items every Friday to donate to the food bank.

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