By Michelle Poirier

The Georgina Community Food Pantry’s annual Spring fundraiser has begun and runs to April 30, focusing on the breakfast basket program, calling it “Fill the Tummy, Fuel the Mind Challenge.”

The Food Pantry took over the breakfast program, from the volunteer residents running it, in February 2022, and has been providing breakfast baskets to registered families with children aged 17 and younger.

It provides an additional 10 to 12 food items, including things like eggs, milk, yogurt, granola bars, oatmeal and apple sauce, to go along with the regular food hamper.

Since taking over the program, the Food Pantry has distributed close to 1200 hampers to nearly 300 children in Georgina.

“We make sure kids have the additional food items to take to school or to have a proper breakfast, which is very important. Many reports have shown the importance of good nutrition to go to school, not just to learn, but to behave and focus during class,” Cesar Caneo, Executive Director of the Food Pantry, said.

Rob Grossi presents a $4k donation from Georgina Cares to Board Chair Emilee Elliott, kick-starting the campaign

Caneo said another reason they are focusing on the breakfast program this year is because the Food Pantry does not get any additional support for the program, as government grants for nutritional school programs go directly to schools.

According to Caneo, with the addition of the breakfast program, and the rising price of food, the Food Pantry saw a 28% increase in costs for the over 10,000 people it served in 2022.

The Food Pantry has also experienced a 20 per cent increase in overall services for the first three months of 2023, and is on the path for another record year.

He says that December is historically the busiest month for the Food Pantry, with the holiday season adding to the demand.

In December 2022 they had 330 visits, but in March 2023 they had 350 visits and surpassed December, which they have never seen before.

“I look at the number, I double check, and I still have a problem convincing myself that we have more numbers in March 2023 than last December,” he said.

“It’s very unfortunate, but the situation speaks about the reality and the needs of the people in the community.”

The Food Pantry has set a goal of $100,000, and the Town of Georgina has pledged to match donations dollar for dollar, up to a max of $25,000.

“We hope that the community rallies behind us and helps us to accomplish feeding and nourishing the kids and the families,” Caneo said.

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