The food bank at St. Paul’s Family Resource Institute in Halifax is carrying on a long tradition of helping people in the area according to Carolyn Mont, chair of the institute’s board.
“Most of us tend to think of food banks as something relatively new,” she said recently, “and those who benefit from them as being products of our modern world. While this is true in many ways, in Halifax we have a long history of helping the unfortunate among us.”
As an example, Mont noted, there were soup kitchens set up in the city’s Grand Parade after the War of 1812 with the steamship magnate Samuel Cunard and his wife Susan donating food and volunteering.
The present resource centre food bank, part of the outreach ministry of St. Paul’s United Church in Spryfield, was recognized in 2013 with an award of excellence from Food Banks Canada. At Christmas the food bank was able to offer food and toys to over 150 clients.
The food bank, though, is only one of a variety of services the resource centre provides. Others include a café where clients can get a snack while waiting for their orders, volunteers doing tax returns for low-income folks, advice offered through Dalhousie Legal aid, and nutritional counseling from Mount St Vincent University student nurses. The minister of St. Paul’s, Rev Jeanne Manning Stright, is also in attendance to meet and talk with clients.
Carolyn Mont commented that much has changed from the time of Samuel and Susan Cunard in terms of methods and programs but the need for organizations to help the poor has remained. Support for the family resource institute programs is received from The United Church of Canada and other sources and is much appreciated.