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Guelph Food Bank gets new wheels

Walmart Foundation funding brings fleet renewal

The Guelph Food Bank has two, almost new cargo vans thanks to a great deal from Wellington Motors, and to a roughly $23,000 grant from Food Banks Canada via the Walmart Foundation.

Pauline Cripps, Guelph Food Bank’s marketing and communications officer, said the good, reliable vans will replace two that were overdue for replacement.

On Tuesday, Food Banks Canada announced a hefty $2.6 million grant from the Walmart Foundation, money distributed to a network of 550 local food banks across Canada. The money is in addition to a previous $2 million dispersal by the foundation.

Guelph Food Bank is one of the organizations supported through the funding. The local organization distributes over one million pounds of food each year to over 26,000 local families. The 100 Crimea Street agency is in planning for its upcoming spring food drive, which runs April 5 through to Apr. 23.

“With this money we’re able to buy two new vans for our fleet,” said Cripps. “Our aging ones needed to get off the road.”

Looking as good as new, the 2016 vans arrived Tuesday, and the old ones drove off into the sunset.

The agency relies on the vans to pick up food donations, and drop food off to the agencies it supports, Cripps said. From Monday to Friday, personnel drive to area grocery stories to collect food left in donation bins. Reliable transportation is a must.

“This is important for us,” she said. “We’re very excited.” She thanked Wellington Motors for its ongoing support.

According to a Food Banks Canada press release, the Walmart Foundation is dedicated to providing millions of dollars over a number of years to allow the country’s food bank network to provide more food, particularly fresh food, to Canadians in need.

The money goes to investments in infrastructure needed to support hunger relief at a time of increased food insecurity among Canadian families.

The grants help food banks acquire equipment like fridge and freezer units, trucks and vans, and other equipment and staffing resources, all geared to improving the storage and distribution of food. Food Banks Canada has had a partnership with Walmart Canada since 2011.

Food Banks Canada’s 2016 HungerCount found that more than 860,000 men, women and children are helped by food banks each month in Canada, which represents a 28 per cent increase since the 2008 economic downturn.

Cripps added that Guelph Food Bank’s community volunteer income tax program is currently up and running, offering free income tax filings to registered clients.