Family and Community Support Food Pantry with Porch Pickup

A group of people standing outside the food bank with their arms in the air

Family and Community Support Food Pantry with Porch Pickup

Article by Brock Weir, The Auroran, Week of Apr. 23 (p.3)

Porches and front steps are seeing a resurgence of popularity as outdoor living spaces as families look at creative ways of staying connected while still maintaining physical distancing.

But they have also become outdoor giving places as well during the COVID-19 pandemic.

In the lead-up to Easter, a small convoy of pickup trucks groaning under the weight of donations, arrived at the Aurora Food Pantry to help clients have food on the table during the holiday.

This food donation, however, wasn’t from a large corporation. Rather, it was the culmination of small donations from dozens of Aurora families, all of whom left packages on their steps and porches for contactless pickup by the Wood family and their friends.

The initiative was spearheaded by local resident Lisa Wood, a member of the Canadian Mental Health Association team, who is keenly aware of the needs our community is facing during this time of crisis.

Inspired by a similar effort by community members in another Ontario town, Ms. Wood wrangled the support of her husband’s company, Wood Brothers Drywall, to help with the pickups.

“We decided to take this on as a family initiative,” she said, noting she took to email and social media to spread the word. “We said we would be around on Saturday morning to do porch pickups for the food bank and people were so generous. We got two pickup trucks full of food and what was really surprising was the amount of money we raised. We had no idea we would raise any money, we were just thinking about the food part, but people were so generous and we also raised $1,600 for the Food Pantry. People were so gracious in the amount of food they donated, especially for those in need during this challenging time of COVID-19.

“Our pitch was, because we couldn’t really be with our families on Easter Weekend, we wanted to reach out to other families in the community to support those in need within the Aurora community. It was great to see people come together and some people left really positive notes for us along the way.”

Enthusiasm for the drive went well beyond the individuals they reached out to directly. Neighbours shared with neighbours, the effort spread, some pooled their resources, and some porches offered five or six bags to pick up in one go.

“People really pulled together and asked others if they would help,” Lisa explains. “I think people knew there was such a need in the community but they just didn’t know where to give, they didn’t know where to find that information, and the need never really goes away.”

The Food Pantry’s asks were simple. They ranged from ordinary cans of soup, dry pasta and pasta sauce, to fresh produce and toiletries.

“People can come together as families and friends to think of creative ways to support the community,” says Lisa. “They can model what we did, do a toiletry drive… families are home together and this is a great time to come together and support the community, maybe leaving notes of support for essential worker in their doors, going online together, maybe looking at a grocery store and what you want to buy for a food bank. Maybe it is getting kids to pick out items online they think might be helpful for other kids – kids supporting kids and families supporting families.

“Be creative. Even call the food bank and say, ‘Hey, what can we do to support you?’ and find out what the needs are. A lot of kids aren’t playing soccer right now, so are they coming together as teams to do their own drives? I think every family can do something; it is just a matter of finding out.”

For more information on the Aurora Food Pantry, including current needs, visit aurorafoodpantry.ca or call 905-841-1577.