For many people in Thunder Bay having access to adequate food can pose a problem for those in needs. With times becoming what some say are tougher than ever, ensuring the cities food programs are active and ready has become a main focal point for the community.
The city’s most utilized shelter, Shelter House, has begun ramping up its efforts to stock the shelves, fill the cupboards and get ready for the winter ahead, with their annual food drive. The shelter not only operates as a fully functioning shelter, but also focuses its effort on providing much needed meals to those in need.
Dubbed the ‘Fall Food Drive,’ supermarkets, volunteers, local businesses and members of the community come together to fill Shelter House’s food coffers. It’s an important time for the shelter, as the Summertime typically depletes their valuable resources. With cold Ontario winters making survival in the winter months even more difficult, the shelter provides a much-needed helping hand to those lacking adequate food supplies.
Shelter House serves up almost 250 thousand meals in any given year, and is the main source of outreach and support for the Thunder Bay community. From those down on their luck, temporarily in need, or homeless, Shelter House provides onsite meal solutions every day. Focusing on lunch and dinner, the shelter is open for both meals every day 365 days a year. When meal service is unavailable, people are still welcome to visit the establishment to pick up a light snack. From bagels to sandwiches, Shelter House always has something available.
During meal times, the shelter estimates that it serves up to 300 people at each meal service. Both meal services typically serve an eclectic crowd of patrons ranging from seniors and those on disability, to those with short-term downfalls, to the homeless residents of Thunder Bay. The diverse patronage exemplifies the true lack of adequate access to food in the Thunder Bay community.
The shelter’s commitment to the community is clearly reciprocated by Thunder Bay residents, with hundreds reaching out to volunteer for the event. The Fall Food Drive not only brings residents together, but allows those at ground zero to get a better understanding of the community’s needs. Working together, Shelter House and Thunder Bay residents are able to identify gaps in food accessibility and create future plans to better service those disparities.
Compared to most cities in Northern Ontario, Shelter House’s service in unique as it is available 24 hours a day. Most shelters, food banks, and non-profit organizations maintain strict business hours, which can impede on an individual’s ability to access much needed food resources.
With one of the most successful food drives on record, Shelter House’s success was made possible with the support of other volunteer organizations in the community. Onsite workers seemed genuinely amazed by the amount of support the event has received. From the Rotary Clubs to the Ultimate Gymnastics group, everyone seemed ready and eager to lend a helping hand.
For more information on how you can donate, get involved or volunteer for the event or at Shelter House, the public is asked to contact them directly.