By: Mike Anderson

While the holidays typically see an increase in demand at the Georgina Community Food Pantry, this year the pandemic is making the need even greater as more families struggle to feed themselves.

According to Cesar Caneo, the pantry’s new executive director, there was a substantial rise in the number of families accessing the food bank in December.

In the week leading up to Christmas, he said the pantry helped close to 180 families – which he estimates is a 40 per cent increase over last year.

And he expects to see even more as the lockdown continues.

“It has been overwhelming,” said Mr. Caneo. “The pandemic is affecting many people in our community.”

“There are more people who are going to be out jobs, and that means the more people are going to need the services of the Pantry.”

According to Mr. Caneo, many of the pantry’s recent clients were working in the hospitality and restaurant industries, and have been either laid-off or forced to work part-time hours.

“They have no other choice than to come to the Pantry,” he said.

While the pantry is struggling to keep up with the demand, Mr. Caneo is thankful to volunteers who have put in long hours.

“We have a super dedicated group of volunteers who are stepping up their effort and are committed to come pretty much every day to organize the food donations, and also to deliver to those who can’t come to the Food Pantry.”

Mr. Caneo is also grateful for the support the Pantry has received from the community.

“We were able, with the support of the community, to not only provide the typical staples, but a good amount of fresh and healthy food, including vegetables and fruit. And, also every family got gift cards from local grocery stores to purchase their own food.”

Last month, the Town of Georgina presented Mr. Caneo with a cheque for $10,000, which it hopes will prompt local businesses to make additional donations.

“I was very surprised. This is the first time I’ve seen a council with the Mayor approaching us with a donation. And we very much appreciate it. And, we for sure are going to use those funds to support the people who come here to the Food Pantry.”

Dep. CAO Ryan Cronsberry, Mayor Quirk and CAO Dave Reddon present Cesar Caneo with $10K cheque

“It’s an evolving situation,“ he said. “There are going to be more people out of jobs, and that means more people are going to need the services of the Pantry,” he said.

“Obviously the situation we are facing now is unprecedented. I would say that for those who can afford, just share with others who are in need in the community.”

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