By Ewa Chwojko-Srawley

The Georgina Community Food Pantry saw a steady increase in demand for its services in 2021, as people struggled with unemployment, closures, and loss of income during the pandemic.

“Last year, the Georgina Food Pantry distributed over 200,000 pounds of food to 8,894 individuals and had 3,562 visits,” said Cesar Caneo, the Pantry’s executive director. “We also added 92 new households.”

To meet the growing demand for food and to restock its shelves for in-person shopping, the Pantry has launched the ‘Restock-to-Reopen’ Challenge – a fundraising campaign that runs during April.

This is the second year residents can participate in this challenge.

The Town of Georgina has again generously agreed to match donations up to $25,000 — so donors can turn every $1 into $2!

“Last year, we hoped to raise $80,000. To my great surprise and delight, Georgina’s generosity exceeded expectations. We raised $104,000,” Caneo said. “This year, the goal is $100,000.”

Over 600 letters have already been sent to individual supporters and businesses.

Last year, some businesses, like the Scotiabank branch in Sutton, did their own mini-challenge to match funds, and they are invited to do so again.

Cash is needed to buy fresh products, such as meat, vegetables, and milk.

Non-perishable items are obtained mainly through food drives.

So far, York Regional Police and the York Catholic District School Board (YCDSB) have stepped up to the plate.

In addition to basic services, the Food Pantry has launched the Georgina Breakfast Club.

It supports about 250 families and distributes hampers to school kids and youth, each containing 11 nutritious items.

Caneo says he is impressed by Georgina’s generosity.

“Over the past several months, I have witnessed unparalleled support from our local community and public officials, which allows the Pantry to continue supporting those individuals and families in need with dignified access to good food. I invite everyone to participate in our fundraiser!”

To donate, visit www.georginafoodpantry.com.

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