Volunteers at Oakville Fare Share Food Bank know what they are doing! Ron Ziegler an 81 year old father of three grown children and grandfather of four, retired (1991) Oakville Trafalgar High School Principal and 17 year food bank volunteer oversees the food bank operations. Ron and food bank President, Nancy Bromberg, another long serving volunteer, run the food bank together – it’s an amazing place providing those in need with a vital service.
Ron and Nancy are helped by a dedicated Board of Directors and a team of approximately 50 food bank volunteers all serving 350-400 families or approx. 1200 people per month in need of food assistance in Oakville. The Oakville Fare Share Food Bank has been in operation since 1988. The food bank does not receive Government, Town of Oakville , or charitable agency financial support – but does have the generous support of the Oakville community.
The Oakville Fare Share Food Bank is the most successful food bank in the world! We give out more food per person or per family and it is the most nutritious food! says Ron. Once a month clients can come to the food bank, fill an order slip and wait while food bank volunteers fill their order. The order is comprised of basic items that everyone receives such as – pasta sauce, canned vegetables, tuna, salmon, pasta, frozen chicken/beef/fish, children’s snacks, and bread. Added to the order are special items as requested by the client such as mayonnaise, Cheese Whiz, cereal, baby formula, laundry soap etc. Families of four leave the food bank with a grocery cart full of approximately $350 worth of groceries plus another $100 in baby items if needed. Families with children receive a $10 voucher for milk and eggs as the food bank does not stock these perishable items.
The food bank now purchases up to 30 items through wholesale food distributors filling in gaps in donations received from grocery stores, groups, and individuals. Obviously purchasing food at wholesale prices enables the food bank to buy more items for considerably less money than the average consumer is able to purchase them for. Each week for approx.$600 a large truck load of fresh fruit and vegetables is delivered to the food bank.
Assisting Ron is Bev his retired school (White Oaks High School) teacher wife. Bev helps with emails, co-ordinating student volunteers, sorting food and other food bank tasks. The Ziegler’s are a hard working team who have for many years been making a difference in our community as both educators and volunteers!
More often than not lately Ron has been saying this is going to be my last food drive. He has approached the board – suggesting they hire a paid executive director to oversee operations. Presently the Oakville Fare Share Food Bank is staffed completely by volunteers. Hiring a paid staff member to oversee operations may be a wise next step as the food bank evolves to serve a growing need and population in Oakville. The food bank is open to clients Monday 10:00am-2:00pm and Thursday 3:00-7:00pm but the work of the food bank goes on all week – answering phones, receiving donations, placing wholesale orders, co-ordinating volunteers, cleaning the facility, sorting food, recycling boxes, and giving tours to community and school groups.
Thanksgiving is the official start of food drive season. There are four annual food drives – Thanksgiving, Halloween, Christmas, and Easter. The food collected at these food drives has to last the entire year. No out dated items are given to clients. A specific list of needs changes with each food drive. Visit the website http://www.oakvillefoodbank.com to see current needs list. Donations can be dropped of in the donation bin at most grocery stores, any fire hall (during food drives) or at the Oakville Fare Share Food Bank – 1240 Speers Road.
The front desk volunteer (a retired Toronto banker) says they routinely check in on clients after a few months to see how it is going. Some clients simply appear and say this is their last visit as they will be starting a new job with a regular pay cheque – no longer requiring the services of the food bank. Other clients for a variety of reasons will always be dependant on the food bank. The general rule of thumb is that if a client can prove through documentation that after paying all of their monthly living expenses such as rent, utilities and transportation and are then left with $300 or less – they qualify to use the food bank
Ron says, Oakville is a very generous place and while food donations are very important to the food bank – a tax receiptable gift of money is the very best way to help the important work of the Oakville Fare Share Food Bank. Ron Ziegler makes you proud of the people that live and volunteer in this town. People like Ron, his wife Bev, Nancy Bromberg, and the committed group of food bank volunteers make our town sparkle with a sense of caring for one another that is emblematic of Oakville.
Happy Thanksgiving lovely readers of OurtownO! – Make It Sparkle!