Sandy Singers of Partners in Mission Food Bank Explains the Need for Donations This Holiday Season
The local Food Bank at our Canadian location in Kingston Ontario is in need of monetary donations and food donations this holiday season! 98% of donated food comes directly from the community of Kingston.
I spoke with Mr. Sandy Singers, Executive Director of Partners in Mission Food Bank in Kingston to get some insight into the challenges faced by those in need in this community.
What is the official title of the organization?
Partners in Mission Food Bank.
What is the mission of Partners in Mission?
Our mission statement is to provide nourishment and hope to those we serve and an opportunity for our community to share. Essentially how we do that is, we are the central collection agency for donating food and distribution center to pass that food out through our Hamper Program directly to clients and also we share out about 60,000 pounds of food annually to about 22 different agencies.
What types of challenges are you addressing in this community?
The greatest challenge is the ever increasing amount of people who are in need. Since the economic downturn in 2008, we’ve experienced almost a 30% increase in the amount of people that we’re helping. To date we are around a 6% increase over last year at this time. The greatest challenge to all of us in any kind of poverty-relief situation is just keeping up with the increase in demand.
What are the kinds of challenges you face on a regular basis with your job?
Within my job it really is my responsibility to ensure that we do have the funds and the food available to provide that service. The challenges are always to inform the community about the need for a hunger relief program. We need to make sure that people are informed as best as we can to the intensity of poverty so hopefully they will help us. It’s really a matter of building partnerships with organizations in the city and making appeals to the general public. That’s mostly what I do other than overseeing day-to-day operations of the Food Bank.
What campaign is the Food Bank currently running right now?
Christmas is kind of a funny campaign because it’s sort of a non-campaign in a way. As I’m sure you can imagine, most people become very generous during the Christmas season to not only our organization but most non-profits and charities do benefit a great deal financially during the month of November and into December.
What we generally do is have a letter published in The Whig for example and making public appearances but for the most part there’s a lot of third party events that will happen. We’ll have groups of people or companies that want to do food collection or something like that and generally they do them in very unique ways and then through that there’s publicity around some of these things. This again gives the information and presence of mind to most Kingstonians that we’re here and that we’re endeavoring to fill our shelves.
What are the goals for Partners in Mission?
In terms of goals, we know what we need to have in terms of food stuffs and monetary donations to keep our organization going. Generally we will put through about a million dollars worth of food through this facility out to the community so we know we need to have in and around that amount coming in every year. We also need about $500,000 for general operations and purchasing. We know that’s generally our operating budget, although it’s creeping up year-after-year. Those have always been our goals and to date we’ve been able to meet that demand.
Wow, that’s amazing! It's not even the end of the year yet, I’m sure there’s still time to see an influx of monetary and food donations…
Absolutely! This year we’ve set up a specific food purchasing fund and United Way generously gave us a start-up infusion of $20,000 to go into that fund just because we realize we’re going to have to be buying more food to fill in the gaps of the products that we don’t generally get donated to us.
We’re trying to encourage people to communicate with us through social media and visit our website because we do have a donation portal there on our website. We’ve actually set up an extra button that gives people that option to make a general donation of whatever they want or they can choose a Hamper size that’s valued at a certain amount of money and make that donation. They get to see what’s actually in a hamper and they can choose what size they would like to donate.
That’s a great way for more people to donate and help out!
It’s just realizing that most people are comfortable now with online financial interactions. We just feel that we need to let people know that they can do that with us. Another benefit is that whatever value they were going to donate to us in food, if they actually made that as a monetary donation they would get a tax receipt whereas they wouldn’t with a food donation and it also gives us the flexibility of buying the food that we need when we need it and we can also purchase food at well below retail pricing because of the volume of buying that we do.
This is actually the 6th annual food drive we’ve been running in support of Partners in Mission…
Now I would have thought longer. You guys have had a barrel going on there at Christmas time for as long as I’ve been here. I’ve been here 22 years! I remember when I first started here I was the Warehouse Manager and I remember dropping off and picking up barrels from your reception area that many years ago. It’s been quite a while!
Is there anything else you’d like to say about Partners in Mission?
Just that we would always want to convey our gratitude to the Kingston community because of the fact that we try not to be overbearing and infusing our message too many times out there or really doing any kind of aggressive fundraising campaigns, that’s been our choice to date to not do mailers. Despite this fact, people have continued to be very generous and have ensured that we are able to keep the operation going and hitting our target. We’re always forever grateful to the kindness of strangers.
Our volunteers are also so essential to this service as well! Those people are golden.
If you would like to donate please visit the Partners in Mission Food Bank website and give to those in need.