Lisa Hurtubise stands among rows of canned goods and baby supplies with a simple message: food bank volunteers are the best in North Bay.
As the manager and volunteer coordinator of the Martinello House food bank, she has first-hand experience with what goes into feeding the hungry.
“Without our volunteers, management would not be able to keep up with the demand,” Hurtubise told BayToday.
She and Amber Livingstone make up the management staff with approximately 50 volunteers needed to make the food bank run smoothly. Hurtubise says that she encourages people to apply including students that need their volunteer hours to graduate, as spaces do open quickly and applications are kept in a database for future reference.
Hurtubise speaks fondly of the efforts of those in the community who donate as well as her volunteer staff. There is a genuine passion in her voice that speaks of the caring she has for the people they serve.
“We really just want to feed the community and if they meet the requirements we will feed them because all walks of life come in here and we are not judgmental.”
The numbers remain fairly consistent at 800 to 1,000 people a month who walk through the doors looking for a meal, a steady need that the food bank at times struggles to meet.
“Once the Christmas holidays are done we see a drastic decline in donations,” Hurtubise stated. "When food donations are low the food bank turns to its own funds to fill them." Hurtubise admits can be difficult when you are funded by donations alone.
An example of how fast the food bank can be depleted is that a recent donation from the Calvin Presbyterian Church of over 400 pounds of peanut butter was gone within a week.
The food bank takes both perishable and non perishable food items. the items can be past their best before date but not an expiry date. “We follow the rules from Food Banks Canada when distributing food, most items will keep up to a year after the best before date with some exceptions like baby food,” Hurtubise stated.
The Food Bank can be accessed by individuals residing in North Bay and Redbridge once every 30 days as long as the individual provides photo identification and meets the qualifying low income cut off.
The food bank also accepts donations of grocery bags, hygiene products, meat, baby food, large size diapers, as well as pull-ups. pasta, sauces, spreads, and tuna are also all high demand items but the food is always needed and the food bank won’t turn anything away as long as it remains unopened
Hurtubise ends with a message as clear as the one she started with “Don’t forget about the Food Bank after the Christmas holidays, because hunger doesn’t take a break, people are hungry year round.”
Monetary and food donations can be made in person at the Food Bank located at 1016 Fisher Street. Donations can be made online and you can find the North Bay Food Bank on Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter.