When it comes to shopping local, you will often hear about the benefits of more jobs, a stronger local economy, better customer service, and greater access to local expertise, but what many not always be highlighted is how businesses are giving back to the community. In the time of COVID when increased demands are being placed on our local non-profit agencies, there is a ray of sunlight shining thanks to local businesses stepping up to provide much needed support.
In one such case, Chatham Outreach For Hunger has seen a variety of businesses reaching out to help keep their shelves stocked.
“COVID is hitting Outreach For Hunger hard with both increased need in the community and also a slow down in the usual food drive activities,” said Brenda LeClair, Executive Director, Chatham Outreach For Hunger. “The May 16th Miracle event was a huge help for many agencies across Chatham-Kent but the reality is that we’ve run through our portion of that donation and are having challenges restocking.”
With activities such as the annual Thanksgiving food drive cancelled, and service clubs and churches not meeting on a regular basis, it has been a struggle to match pace with demand.
“We have been very fortunate to have local businesses step up and donate additional products. It’s been so important to have their support,” said LeClair.
Businesses from across Chatham-Kent have been actively helping a variety of agencies fill the gaps in demand since the start of the pandemic.
“I can’t thank enough all of the grocery stores who are helping, Schinkels and Lenovers have been donating meat to us during COVID, and since March 17, Mercato Fresh has donated over $50,000 in product,” said LeClair. “Sobeys is also doing pre-packed bags that people can buy and donate. Any donation, of any size is appreciated.”
Looking ahead to the colder temperatures season, LeClair predicts that there will be a spike in the number of families seeking help from food banks.
“It’s through no fault of their own that they are coming in. We are already seeing families throughout COVID coming in to get help because, although they are working, they struggle to make ends meet either due to temporary layoffs or a variety of other unforeseen challenges,” said LeClair. “I know that once the heat needs to come on, it will be a question of how cold can we afford to be and still feed the kids.”
Over the past several years, Chatham-Kent Economic Development and the Small Business Centre have been driving the message to ShopCK.
“When the community supports a business, that business can support the community,” said Stuart McFadden, Director of Chatham-Kent Economic Development. “As part of Small Business Month we are reminding people to shop local because it matters, and it makes a difference.”
When speaking with Mayor Darrin Canniff about the value of shopping local, he indicated, “One of the biggest benefits to having a strong local economy is people have the means to look after each other. This includes our businesses giving back. It can be filling bins at a food drive, sponsoring a local sports team, or donating time and resources for a campaign; the bottom line is local businesses care about the well-being of the people they serve.”
LeClair pointed out that Outreach For Hunger also supports buying local. “We frequently receive cash donations that we then use to buy items that are not always donated. We have a strict rule that says that all donated dollars must be spent in Chatham-Kent.”
For more information about Outreach For Hunger, including how to donate, please visit their website at www.outreachforhunger.com.
Outreach For Hunger has been serving the community for 30 years with the generous support of volunteers and donors.
October is Small Business Month and the perfect time to #ShopCK and support businesses across Chatham-Kent. Note: photo is from a sign in Wheatley displayed by the Economic Development and Small Business Centre as part of the #ShopCK initiative.
Marketing and Communications Officer
Economic Development Services, Community Development
Municipality of Chatham-Kent
124 Thames Street, Chatham, ON N7M 5K8