A record number of donations from a multi-faith food drive has filled the shelves at Winnipeg Harvest.
The 14th annual food drive, organized by the Manitoba Islamic Association and the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, collected 86,533 pounds of food — an amount that was matched by Peak of the Market food distributors to bring the total to 173,066 pounds.
Between June 17 and 22, volunteers dropped empty bags on the door handles of 65,000 homes in Fort Garry, North Kildonan, River Heights and Selkirk. Residents filled the bags with food that was later distributed by Harvest.
Winnipeg Harvest CEO Keren Taylor-Hughes said the food drive couldn’t have happened without the hard work of the volunteers behind it.
"Your act of kindness will go a long way to helping feed hope and fight hunger across our communities," she said, adding "a heartfelt ‘thank you’ to Winnipeg and Selkirk’s caring neighbours and Peak of the Market for their kind donations."
Luis Del Río, a bishop at the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, said the annual food drive is a great opportunity to bring people of different faiths together for a common cause.
"We have found that we have a lot in common with the Islamic people," he said. "It is good that in this world today, with all this turmoil that we are living in… that we can participate as brothers and sisters to help people in need."
Del Río said the church had a great response from its members and from many of the people who received the bags they delivered.
"The response when we took the food from the houses, it was amazing," he said. "We believe in giving to the people. One of the commandments that we have from the Lord is we need to take care of those in need, and that's a way to participate."
This year’s food drive collected nearly double the amount of food compared to last year’s effort, which garnered a contribution of 89,816 pounds of food after the original donation was matched by Peak of the Market and Safeway.
Winnipeg Harvest shares emergency food with nearly 62,000 people in Manitoba every month, and more than 43 per cent of those people are children, according to information on Winnipeg Harvest’s website. Every day in Winnipeg, an average of 540 children use a food bank, the website says.
The organization processes more than 10 million pounds of food each year, and in Manitoba, food bank use is up almost 58 per cent since 2008, the website says.