On Tuesday afternoon, representatives from Holland Gardens Retirement Residence donated $5,000 to the Bradford Helping Hand Food Bank. The funds will be allocated specifically towards a new van which is desperately needed to help transport foods to and from the food bank.
The Helping Hand Food Bank currently has four volunteer drivers who do pick-ups and deliveries for the food bank several times a month, but the volunteers' cars are limited in how much food they can take.
“[A van] is going to be more appropriate than the cars we’re using,” notes Trevor Nyrs, secretary-treasurer of the food bank. “I mean, we use the cars to get the job done but it’s not always the best way to do it.”
“We want to make sure we take the liability onto ourselves rather than on the volunteer drivers,” adds Carolyn Khan, president of the Helping Hand Food Bank. “We also would like to be able to access more ‘food rescues’… instead of having two people use their cars, one van will do the job… it’s really hard to mobilize people at the last minute, so that’s why having our own van would be so much helpful.”
The Helping Hand Food Bank is connected with a food rescue organization called ‘Second Harvest’ which rescues unused produce from restaurants that shut down and cannot move the food quickly enough. Khan shares they have had to decline opportunities from food rescues because they are usually in bulk and food bank volunteers are unable to get to the food in time – not to mention a lack of space at the food bank to properly store the extra foods.
“We felt this was important and we wanted to support local,” expresses Melissa McKee, sales and marketing manager of Holland Gardens who presented the $5,000 cheque to Khan and Nyers.
Holland Gardens donated a few hundred dollars to the Bradford food bank last fall through fundraising efforts from a lemonade stand they had in the parking lot of the retirement residence. Donations were made by the residents who purchased lemonade, and the marketing team from Holland Gardens matched the donations.
“We’ll be doing [the lemonade stand] again if we can because clearly, no one is coming inside anytime soon!” shares McKee.
McKee adds that the entire residence and all staff are fully vaccinated now, but they must still take precautions including continued biweekly Covid testing and strict no-entry policies (designated essential caregivers excluded) to ensure the continued safety of the residents.
“We’re getting there! We just hope the rest of the world can catch up!” says McKee.
During the cheque presentation, McKee offered the use of the giant Holland Gardens bus to help the food bank with any upcoming deliveries in the interim until they have enough funds to purchase their own van.
“Unfortunately, we can’t use the bus because we can’t take the residents anywhere,” notes McKee. “So, we’re happy to deliver food with [our bus] instead! I might as well put it to good use during Covid, even on short notice. If we can help, we will!”
“We’re still a little bit short where we’d like to be,” states Nyers in regards to the purchase of the new van. “But we’re confident we’re going to get there, it’s just a matter of time!”
The Helping Hand Food Bank is expecting two new fridges this week to help with more storage of foods, and welcome continued donations of food from the public.