Christmas always marks a critical time of the year for the Upper Room Hospitality Ministry Food Bank on Belmont Street.
While the food bank sees an increase in demand at the start of the school year in September, that keeps climbing until Christmas. And while many already know the holiday season is busy for the service, few may realize the demand continues throughout the following winter months.
“There’s certainly a great demand at Christmas but it’s just as great in the months after,” said food bank manager Mike MacDonald. “We really have to get as much food as we can get at this time of the year to bring us through January, February and March, which are much leaner months when it comes to donations. It’s a critical time of the year for us.”
Luckily for the food bank and its patrons, Christmas is also the time of year when Islanders are a little more generous with their donations.
The build-up to the holiday season sees large quantities of donations through food drives held by both the Y’s Mens and the Our Lady of Assumption Parish, or the CBC’s annual turkey drive.
However, individual Islanders also assist the food bank greatly through single donations, said MacDonald.
“There are numerous people just walking through the front door every day with a bag here, a couple bags there. It’s amazing how much food we get from just people coming through the door and giving us a bag or a can at a time,” said MacDonald. “It doesn’t take long to add up at all.”
The food bank is able to receive both non-perishable and perishable donations because of the building’s walk-in refrigeration. MacDonald noted the food bank requests that perishable donations are dropped off directly at the Belmont Street location.
However, non-perishable items can be dropped off at any major grocery store, which all have donation boxes, as well as at the Upper Room Soup Kitchen on Richmond Street.
WIth the soup kitchen open every day of the year, Christmas is no exception. The facility will host a traditional Christmas meal on Dec. 25 for its patrons, said MacDonald.
“We’re very fortunate to have one of the local churches coming in and putting on a Christmas meal for us,” he said.