Food drive building to crescendo

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Just before Christmas 20 years ago, a modest number of London businesses gathered 36,000 pounds of food for the London Food Bank.

Last year a greatly expanded group of corporations and institutions, including the Western community, collected and donated a record 443,000 pounds.

“Amazing, yes – however, regrettably, the need continues to be there,” said Wayne Dunn, volunteer head of the Business Cares Food Drive that launched Friday at Western.

The goal is to raise one pound more than the previous year. Approximately 3,500 London families use the food bank each month and 38 per cent of recipients are children.

Supporting representatives from Western, the London Home Builders’ Association, the London & District Construction Association and the Grand Theatre were all in attendance to support the food drive, which runs now through Dec. 16 on campus and through Dec. 20 elsewhere in the city. Donations may be made at designated spots on campus or at any London grocery store.

Western students, staff and faculty have been key partners in the drive for 15 years as Western Cares. This year the launch included a performance of seasonal songs by a tuba/baritone quartet of students from the Don Wright Faculty of Music.

Many partners have already begun collecting non-perishable food, and this weekend will feature a mass day of giving at 24 London grocery stores.

“We continue to say our campaign is employer-sponsored but employee-driven,” Dunn said of the large and small businesses and institutions that have been part of the campaign through the years.

He added there’s a strong emphasis this year on nutritious foods and low-salt options (McCormick & Co. headquartered in London has already donated 3,500 salt-free spices) and on mobilizing more professionals to give.