Food for thought over at the food bank


A young mother this week posted on the Times-Journal Facebook page her desperate plea for assistance. “I needed bread and milk. Quite desperately. I have a week left until I get CCTB (Canada child tax benefit) and I am almost out of both.”
She did what many in St. Thomas would do, she gathered up spare change and headed to the Caring Cupboard food bank.
On her arrival, she discovered numerous changes, including a new executive director, Janice Kinnaird.
The young mother had previously complied with the need to show personal ID, proof of income and rental information so she could receive much-needed food assistance in the future simply by arriving with an item of identification.
She was denied assistance this time out because she could not comply with the new policy of presenting full ID.

We’ll let her relate the final outcome.
“This woman (Kinnaird) turned her back (as others were trying to ask questions) and walked into her office. Completely heartbroken, I broke down in tears. All I wanted was some milk and bread, there’s no way I can afford to get back downtown to the food bank.”
This is not the first such tale we’ve been made aware of this week. Two incredibly determined and strong-willed women — graduates of the Bridges out of Poverty program — spent an hour with me detailing a litany of horror stories associated with the new regime at the Caring Cupboard.
We were made aware of a trip to the food bank by homeless advocate Jason McComb who couldn’t even get the executive director to speak with him.
That prompted a phone call to the organization’s board chairman, Ward Houghton, who confirmed he has fielded similar complaints over the past couple of months.
Asked if there is an appeals process, Houghton affirmed, “they call me.”
He continued, “This is Janice’s job. She could lose her job if she doesn’t comply with the board regulations (to gather the proper items of identification). She puts herself at risk for not complying with what we have mandated.
“Obviously I want to give more. Our biggest problem is numbers. We are overwhelmed.”
Houghton invited this corner to attend their annual general meeting on Monday and we have accepted in order to determine the new direction for the food bank and how to minimize the impact of its policies on those who need it most.
And, to answer the question of one individual turned away this week: “Is there no caring anymore in Caring Cupboard?”

The city’s solution to closure of the Bush Line Transfer station is to become a player in the waste disposal business.

Bush Line transfer station, St. Thomas

Bush Line transfer station, St. Thomas

Thursday, the select waste committee held a media scrum to outline alternative plans for residents to dispose of bulky waste and recyclables not accepted for curbside pickup.
The short-term solution is a trip to one of two recycling facilities in south London to dispose of household items and construction waste.
For the long term, the city is investing in a community recycling centre. The location has yet to be revealed as the city will have to deal with neighbouring property owners.
Construction won’t begin until mid-2015 and the projected cost of the facility is $1.4 million.
John Dewancker, director of environmental services, has pegged the operating cost of the recycling centre at $200,000 annually, with the hope that might be offset by recovery costs and user fees.
The goal is to be cost neutral.
“That’s the goal ultimately,” noted Mayor Heather Jackson. “Although it may take awhile to get there.”
“The clientele will build up over time,” added Dewancker. “There will be two streams at the facility. A stream where material can be dropped off at no cost and a circuit where material will be weighed and a fee paid for disposal.”
Separation of the various materials and trucking it away would likely be negotiated under a haulage contract.
In entering into a new waste management contract with Green for Life Environmental effective March 1, the city will realize a saving of about $300,000 on its previous arrangement with BFI Canada.
Why the switch to Green for Life?
“The contract had been extended a number of times,” pointed out Jackson. “So it was a very old contract, so this allowed us to update it to segregate out the recycling and diversion so we had separate pieces for each thing that went to tender.
“It allows us to modernize that and offer better service to the community. In the long run, we’re hoping we’re going to see the recoveries now which we weren’t seeing before and that should start to lower the cost of the programs.”
It’s a calculated gamble — one in which residents must buy into more than a year of carting their bulky waste to London before reaping any benefits here.
Posted on our Facebook page is this comment, “We knew this was going to happen, where was the planning, mid-2015 is not right.”
Will that be a universal sentiment and residents respond by dumping their old couches and chairs in creek beds or along back roads?

Do you think after being shuttered twice in 18 months by the health unit, Kings Buffet will open for a third chance to impress diners?
Kings Buffet
On the plus side, it hammers home the case for some form of scorecard to alert patrons of what dining adventure lies beyond the doors of St. Thomas eateries.
In talking to Cathie Walker, director of health protection for Elgin-St. Thomas Public Health, she noted diners will soon benefit from the health unit’s food inspection disclosure system.
“People will have more information about the performance of premises. We will have an open/close system but we’re also going to have the ability for members of the public to go on the website and look at the inspection reports.”
Cathie indicated the system will be up and running later this year.


“I’m having more fun, there might be bad moments – but I’m having great days.”
Elgin-Middlesex-London MP Joe Preston says after 10 years in office he is still enjoying himself. Will he seek re-election? Joe says he’ll announce on the 10th anniversary of his first election to Parliament — June 28.

City Scope appears Saturday in the Times-Journal. Questions and comments may be emailed to

3 thoughts on “Food for thought over at the food bank

  1. Ian, I was just reading your blog about the young lady who was refused assistance.Hard to believe in this day and age this can still be happening with all the resources our government has. Daily we hear on the news how Harper is offering up our money to aid other countries, yet many Canadians are suffering as much or more.Our government needs to take care of there own before offering up OUR TAX DOLLARS to other countries.Anyways my friend I am writing to offer assistance to this young lady.I would be happy to write her a check to see that she makes it until she receives her Child Credit benefit.I enjoyed my visits to St.Thomas and would be honored to help one of its fine citizens.Please pass along my information to this young lady and I will send out the amount required. Take care and keep up the great reporting from beautiful St, Thomas, Ontario!

    Bob Foster Brampton, Ontario

    Date: Sat, 22 Feb 2014 15:01:00 +0000 To:


  2. Hi Ian
    I wanted to clarify that the mid-2015 timeframe is when we expect to have the cities recycling facility open to the public. Also to note, that a municipal recycling facility was one of the Select Waste committees 5-10 year long term goals when I took the chair. We should have this accomplished in a little over two year timeframe and we have been working on this for a year now, so mid next year we should be open to receive.
    Mark Cosens


  3. Hello Ian!
    First, I ask your forgiveness for using your forum in the sentences that follow in order to speak to someone else! I want to thank Bob Foster of Brampton, Ontario (commenter above) for, his generosity towards the young mother in our community! It never ceases to amaze me (even after the 21 months since starting Homeless Happens Helping Hands) when, a complete stranger extends assistance to someone that they had no idea existed previous to hearing/reading about, and still knows little about them upon extending the assistance (especially monetary in a day and age that it seems the “almighty dollar” seemingly comes before taking care of our brothers, sisters, neighbors, etc). Having said that, THANK YOU BOB! I wish that reading your extension to this young lady was contagious and that others in the community in which I/this young lady reside would become “infected” with the same spirit! That is not to say that there is not a large number of generous people in the community. Obviously that would be a blatant untruth! Doing what I do, I see first hand the generosity of a lot of people wishing to help others (many times unsolicited) when they bring articles of clothing, household items, hygiene products, food, and more into my office to provide the less fortunate, down trodden, and homeless in particular. The sweetest part of it is that it almost comes into my office free of charge thus allowing me to provide it to those in need without charge. That being said Ian, I would like it if you could have this young lady get a hold of me when I return to town on Monday afternoon (providing you still have a contact number for her). I was in receipt of a substantial amount of non perishables as well as a number of frozen foods that, I have in my freezer in my office. Out of that, I would like to provide the young lady with a week or so worth of food for her and her children before I, take the rest to Destination Church to be utilized for “Stone Soup” (the regular Thursday night community meal).

    One more thing I would like to add…
    I too have been fielding a number of concerns in relation to the the “lack of care in the Caring Cupboard” hence the reason I hoped to speak with, Ms. Kinnaird but, was told that she was unavailable as she walked away from me. I don’t want to go as far as saying that she was not in fact available though! She made it abundantly clear that there is nothing available to the homeless at the “Caring” Cupboard recently while in conversation with a couple of young ladies when (I must paraphrase here), the homeless will likely turn around and sell the food they receive here for alcohol or drugs, the homeless have no where to put the food we give out, and no way to prepare it so, they will not receive any from here. Forgive me for pointing out the obvious… A lot of the food is precooked that is in cans, and there are plenty of items donated that do not require cooking! Having said, “DONATED”, I beg to be enlightened why it appears as though this STIGMATIZING/STEREOTYPING FORMER PASTOR has any investment in what goes out, almost like her wallet takes a hit because someone that is in need of the food donated there to be provided to those in need, is in receipt of it! Forgive me, I digress and will speak with you soon Ian!

    Jason H. McComb
    Homeless Happens Helping Hands


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