VON team delivers holiday food baskets to those in need
VON staffers in southwestern Ontario are set to deliver surprise holiday gift baskets to 60 community support clients. “After the pandemic, there’s not enough money for people to buy food,” says Dee-Ann Vickers, community support services manager. “People with low incomes are struggling.”
Dee-Ann has partnered with VON colleague Amy Donaldson, manager of the Ontario Student Nutrition Program – Southwest Region (OSNP-SW) to boost food security in the area.
Together, the two use existing resources and reduce food waste while bringing more food to people who need it.
VON supports seniors and people with disabilities who live in London-Middlesex Community Housing, offering programs such as Home Help, crisis intervention, case management and congregate dining events. Through OSNP-SW, VON serves 480 schools in eight regions of Ontario, supporting healthy breakfast, snack and lunch programs.
In the early days of the pandemic, Amy’s team received food donations that could not be used. That sparked the idea of using excess food items from third-party donors to benefit existing clients who experience food scarcity.
“If something can’t be used, we’re given the option to donate it,” Amy explains. “So we have free markets in our clients’ buildings, and we are able to redirect unused food donations and have them used instead of going to waste.”
The team has been redirecting food that is set to expire during the summer months when schools are not in session, as well as food that doesn’t fit the criteria for OSNP meals and snacks.
“We have given out over $37,000 worth of food from June of this year until now, to well over 500 clients,” says Dee-Ann.
She has partnered with the Ontario Early Years Centre to have kids make Christmas crafts to add cheer to the holiday baskets. The gifts will also include toothpaste, toothbrushes, cleaning supplies, snacks and treats.
The team has delivered similar packages in the past, and has seen recipients cry tears of joy. “Some people said they were going to save it for Christmas day so they could have something to open while they were alone,” Dee-Ann says.
VON is a registered charity. During this special season of giving, we are grateful for our donors, who help us to deliver programs such as Meals on Wheels and Adult Day to more people who need them. Please visit https://von.ca/en/donate-von if you can help.
In the photo: Nancy Leingang, Program Coordinator, poses with food items set to be donated.