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Community responds to appeal to fill empty food bank shelves

The director of the Regional Food Distribution Association says he is 'very moved' by the response

THUNDER BAY — The community has come through after an emergency appeal for donations to the Regional Food Distribution Association of Northwestern Ontario.

Two weeks ago, many of the shelves in the RFDA warehouse on Syndicate Avenue were sitting empty.

By Easter Monday, many of those same shelves were once again stocked with donated food after what executive director Volker Kromm described as an "amazing" response.

"It was immediate. The public came and said we need to feed our hungry neighbours. Immediately, the food started coming in. It was a little bit of a trickle at first, then it started to really ramp up."

Kromm said RFDA is also receiving 400 to 500 kilograms of food from various stores.

"We're not quite keeping pace yet with the demand, but we're improving the type of hamper that's going out, and we are able to offer a greater variety of things," he said, adding that is combined with the increase in donations from the community.

He predicted that if the current pace of donations continues for the rest of the month, the RFDA will be able to sustain its services for the next two months or so.

"I'm very moved by the response. People in Thunder Bay and the area are so giving. When they see a need, they respond instantly. They have been donating food coming through the door and cash. That cash will enable us to buy bulk and fill up what's missing. It's really quite exciting."

The RFDA serves about 50 member food banks and affiliates in the city and region, including 28 to 30 in Thunder Bay alone, which depend on it to function.

On Monday, a truck containing 28,000 kilograms of donated sandwich meats from the Pillers plant in Waterloo, Ontario was parked at the RFDA warehouse..

"We have not seen the manufacturers and processors coming to us with donations. We have a one-time donation from the Pillers group, and we're going to try to move that product out to as many food banks and regional communities, including remote communities, as possible," Kromm said

He said the contribution was totally unexpected, but that he hopes other products can be secured this way in the coming months.

More information about donating to RFDA can be found online.

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