The final tally is in for CAA Niagara’s community-wide food drive, dubbed The Big Food Boost, and more than 3,000 pounds of non-perishable donations were raised for local food banks.
Planned and executed in just one month, The Big Food Boost called for residents of Niagara to join CAA Niagara in its fight against hunger by dropping off donations at one of five club Branches between August 23rd-28th or registering online to have the donations picked up from their doorstep. On August 28th, volunteers travelled across the Niagara Region to collect non-perishables from more than 70 residences. All the donations collected in the food drive benefitted food banks across Niagara: Community Care of St. Catharines & Thorold, Community Care of West Niagara, Community Outreach Program Erie (COPE), GBF Community Services, The Hope Centre, Port Cares, Newark Neighbours, Project SHARE of Niagara Falls and Village of Hope.
The Big Food Boost is part of the club’s larger initiative, Big Boost, which was originally implemented in 2020 as a one-time funding program to provide support to essential Niagara-based charities that had been significantly impacted by the COVID-19 pandemic. Through the 2020 program, $100,000 was donated between 18 non-profit organizations. But as many Niagara citizens and charities continued to face significant hardship through 2021, the club decided to revive the Big Boost for a second year, donating
$106,000 across 15 organizations and hosting The Big Food Boost food drive.
Of the 15 organizations that benefitted from Big Boost, six represented past and present recipients of CAA Niagara’s annual Community Boost program—Kristen French Child Advocacy Centre, The Distress Centre of Niagara, Foundation of Resources for Teens (FORT), Food4Kids Niagara, Gillian’s Place and Hospice Niagara. The remaining nine beneficiaries were the same food banks that received food donations on behalf on The Big Food Boost. However, the food banks were unaware that they’d be receiving a financial donation from the club until the time of the food delivery. Throughout the week of August 30th, a small team of CAA Niagara employees stopped by each food bank to deliver a portion of the non-perishables collected and surprise them with a “big cheque”.
“We feel so fortunate to have been able to help these important organizations in a big way,” said Peter Van Hezewyk, President and CEO of CAA Niagara. “Our club truly prides itself on supporting its local community, so when we saw that many local charities were continuing to face challenging times this year, bringing back Big Boost and launching The Big Food Boost were obvious decisions.
The Big Food Boost was our first-ever food drive of this magnitude and we saw fantastic participation and encouragement from our employees, our partners, CAA Members and the community—without them, none of this would have been possible.”
Lynda O’Donnell, Manager of Community Engagement said: “We were honoured and excited when we heard that CCWN would be a recipient of “The Big Boost Food Drive”! In the past 12-18 months, the 9 registered food banks that cover all of Niagara, have seen an increase of 20% for our services. Some of the third party food drives that are normally organized for us throughout the year didn’t happen due to the lockdowns. This infusion of food from our community is amazing and very much appreciated. On behalf of the Lincoln clients we serve, thank you CAA for making a difference!”
Pam Sharp, Executive Director of Project SHARE said: “Project SHARE is extremely grateful for the continued support of CAA Niagara. Their generous donation of 301 lbs of food and $10,000 from the CAA Niagara Big Boost will help us to provide emergency food and 16 additional support services to our Niagara Falls neighbours in need. We thank them for their ongoing partnership as together we ensure our community is fed, housed and healthy.”
To learn more about CAA Niagara’s advocacy and community support work, visit caaniagara.ca/community.
To download more imagery from The Big Food Boost, please click https://we.tl/t-L0q8t7lyin