Supporting Food Security in Our Own Community
Food Voucher Program
Each Tuesday morning, except in July and August, a team of empathetic listeners meets with people living in poverty. They hear their stories, offer them coffee, and dispense food vouchers. Participating grocery stores accept the vouchers as cash, and then send the tapes to us for reimbursement. The value of the vouchers varies according to need, but ranges from $25 to $40. We have 30-40 regular clients who may receive a voucher once a month. We also have one-time-only clients (often single men) who receive a $25 emergency voucher, but only once each year.
This outreach program of the congregation has operated for many years and is well known among the needy in Kingston. It has been featured in both annual reports of the Kingston food providers network. The program is funded by: your contributions to the Benevolent Fund at Communion offerings; by regular givings; and by special fund-raisers such as soup lunches and the Vimy Band Concert. Excess monies raised for the Christmas Baskets, including some funds from last year’s shared Christmas Basket program donated by Princess St United people, are left with the Benevolent Fund for the voucher program. The funds are maintained outside our congregational budget and balances are carried over from one year to the next.
Through regular donations and special communion offerings, we raised $28,860 in 2019 to support the Benevolent Fund and Christmas baskets, which we provide to needy families in Kingston. The latter program is undertaken in cooperation with the Salvation Army which is authorized to act on behalf of the city to assure provision of food for Christmas to all those Kingstonians who need this assistance at this special holiday season. In 2019, we received enough food and money donations to provide a Christmas dinner for 34 families.
Like most things during the Covid-19 pandemic, the 2020 Christmas Basket Campaign will look a lot different this year. Due to the number of people required to collect, pack and deliver food items, it is not possible to do these tasks safely. For that reason and the uncertainty of further restrictions due to Covid-19, the members of the voucher team have decided that instead of collecting and purchasing food, we will be supporting needy families in our community with food cards for local grocery stores. This is consistent with other organizations like the Salvation Army, who this year has decided to go with gift cards for their Christmas Hamper and Toy Drive.
You can support this important Sydenham Street outreach program by donating money to purchase food gift cards. See the Donate page for more details. However you contribute to this year’s campaign, please indicate “for Christmas Basket Campaign” on your donation.
Updated 2020 11 29