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Transcona food bank turns 25

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The Winnipeg Harvest outlet located in the basement of the Transcona Memorial United Church on Yale Avenue completes its 25th year of operation this month.

Open the first and third Thursdays of the month from September through June and once per month in July and August, the organization is there to accommodate people in need by offering monthly supplements of food.

"It’s a very welcoming, warm and friendly atmosphere," says Midge Barry who, along with her husband, Don, has been volunteering at the Transcona Food Bank for 12 years now.

"At every opening we offer coffee, juice and cookies so the families can sit, eat and relax before receiving their food. There’s no judgment when you come here."

The Barrys say that over half the families and people they serve are children.

"We serve approximately 72-80 families per opening with anywhere from 70-85 children per opening."

According to the Transcona Food Bank’s 2012 records, it saw 1,675 children from the ages of infancy to the age of 18. Some 579 of those children were between the ages of one and six. (These numbers don’t reflect returning families but reflect opening attendance.)

But the food bank offers more than just food to these children, too.

"We have toys, books and videos for the kids and they are all free," Barry says. "The children really enjoy going through the kids’ tables and picking out things that they like."

The food bank also provides clothing at a minimal cost.

"We sell clothing for as low as 25 cents to a maximum of a dollar which helps the recipients a great deal," Barry says. "It especially helps new mothers who need a lot of baby clothes."

The Barrys believe that the success of the program is due to the strength of thecommunity and volunteers. The program is run solely by volunteers from several different churches, proving that community rises above all.

"We get great support from the churches, local schools and businesses. We’re giving back. Helping others. It’s rewarding. We’re all Transcona residents."

Recipients must pre-register with Winnipeg Harvest prior to each food bank opening by phone at 204-982-3660.

Donations of food and/or money made directly from the local community are welcomed and greatly appreciated.

Adam Petrash is a community correspondent for Transcona. He can be contacted at aetpetrash@gmail.com

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