Greater Blackville Resource Centre Needs Help
Miramichi’s newest food bank is treading water, barely making ends meet on a monthly basis, due to a lack of government funding.
“Our greatest concern right now is food to service our clients,” says Greater Blackville Resource Centre (GBRC) Founder/ President, Albertine Leblanc. “Receiving funding for projects like the Community Food Mentors program and Collective Kitchen is wonderful, but every month is a struggle to meet our basic food demand. And we haven’t received any government funding to help with that yet. Thankfully, we have a strong volunteer base and the generosity of the community helps us to meet our basic needs each month.”
The Greater Blackville Resource Centre (GBRC) operates a Food Bank and thrift store in Upper Blackville. As of July 31st, 55 households were registered for the food distribution program. All Blackville, Renous and surrounding area clients who were previously serviced by the Doaktown or Miramichi Food Bank have now been redirected to the GBRC.
Operated entirely by volunteers, who log over 300 hours of service per month, the GBRC had hoped that in March 2013, after a year of operation they would qualify for food bank funding to assist with purchasing food, hiring a full-time manager, and other operational expenses. Unfortunately the application process was closed to any new food banks entering the system. This is up for review in 2014. Until this time no government funding has been received for the food bank itself, everything has been achieved with volunteer effort, community donations, and money made from the thrift store.
“We have raised over $7,600 during the past year from the sale of donated goods and received cash donations of nearly $5,800,” says Sandra Cooper, who volunteers to do the accounting and bookkeeping for GBRC. Sandra brings 35 years of banking experience to the GBRC. Shortly after retiring from Scotiabank, she and her husband, Ken MacIntosh, moved to Blackville.
“Established Food Banks, such as the food banks in Miramichi and Doaktown, have access to funding from the Province of New Brunswick via the Community Volunteer Action (CVA) Program, however this program is only available for food banks that were operational prior to 2008 and we have been advised that there are no plans to open applications to newer food banks, such as the GBRC, during the next budget period,” Sandra says.
Similar sized food banks in communities like Doaktown, Chipman and Minto receive CVA funding annually. The Food Bank in Doaktown received $32,367, Chipman received $27,941, and Minto received $26,000 for 2012.
There are many ways local people can help. Volunteers are needed to sort clothing and work in the thrift store which is open Wednesday to Friday, to pack food boxes for distribution; to organize food drives at their work place or church; join the board of directors or help out at the community garden. Cash and food donations are also greatly appreciated, it costs the GBRC $44 to fill a food basket provided to a single person and $82 to feed a family of five.
Another way people can get involved is by attending the public dialogue sessions being held this autumn by the Economic and Social Inclusion Corporation, that will lead to a renewal of the poverty reduction plan. The Miramichi session is scheduled for Tuesday, September 17th from 6 – 9 pm at the Knights of Columbus Hall, 67 King Street.
The GBRC is governed by a Board of Directors including Founder/ President, Reverend Albertine Leblanc; Vice President, Silas Jardine; Secretary/ Treasurer, Stacy Underhill; and Directors Father Gerry Laskey, Jean Claude Leblanc, Andrea Coughlan and Kenneth MacIntosh. They are located at 12073 Route 8 in Upper Blackville. Like their Facebook page or visit their website at www.BlackvilleResource.com for more information including photographs.
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