We are a community based, volunteer driven, non-profit, non-denominational organization established in 1986 to provide food to those in need in Pembroke and area. We work closely with other food banks across Renfrew county to satisfy this most basic human need.
Prior to the establishment of the Food Bank in 1986, Pembroke's poverty levels were very significant, with some sources reporting a 36% unemployment rate. The Salvation Army operated an emergency food bank in for many years. In 1985, they were spending about $12,000 a year to support 700 families. According to Lt. Brad Donais of the Salvation Army, they were only able to help about one third of those in need. It was obvious that additional resources had to be brought to bear in Pembroke to better satisfy the basic food needs of those experiencing food shortages.
The St. Joseph's Community Food Bank, was the vision of Mary and Terry McCann who mobilized the community to move ahead for the planning of this important resource. From the beginning, the community rallied to work together towards improving the social support network. A Board of Directors was appointed to represent a broad cross section of the community including lawyers, business people, accountants, priests and ministers. Community volunteers brought a diverse range of skills to the Food Bank and continue to make the Food Bank a success today.
The Bernadette McCann House, the Salvation Army, the Kinsmen Club of Pembroke, the members of the multi-denominational church Association, and a wide range of private supporters contributed to the successful startup.
St. Joseph's Community Food Bank first opened its doors to the public on January 7, 1986 in advance of the official opening on May 7th of the same year. Mila Mulroney, a strong social advocate and the wife of the then Prime Minister of Canada, officiated at the opening in recognition of the importance of the Food Bank to the community of Pembroke. The Food Bank has operated out of the Holy Name Church Annex for the past 36 years.
The organization is entirely dependent on volunteer support and public donations to fulfill its mission. The generosity of churches, schools, service clubs, businesses and private citizens have made the Food Bank an essential element of the social support network for Pembroke and area.
GROWTH IN DEMAND
The demands on the Food Bank have continued to grow every year since its inception. For example, over the five year period from 2017 to 2022, the numbers of meals provided has expanded dramatically. In 2017, the Food Bank provided 45,000 meals per year. In 2022, we provided over 100,000 meals. The key to ongoing success in this environment of escalating need, is sound strategic planning and continued strong support from the community.
Rene Lachapelle - President
Sharon Armstrong - Secretary
Linda McLaren - Treasurer
Suzanne Schultz - Director
Bev Sloan - Director
Norma Valiquette - Director
Ray Dumas - Director
Ken Lovely - Director