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Guelph holiday drive focuses on food sensitivities

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Local food drives are working to stock shelves this holiday, but one campaign in Guelph aims to help those with severe allergies.

Ensuring those with food sensitivities are served this festive season is the goal of Ward 1 councillor Erin Caton, who is collecting non-perishable foods for people with hypersensitive diets as part of a new campaign — Donate for Disability.

“Everybody donates around this time of year,” Caton said. “But usually people forget there are a lot of folks out there that have food sensitivities.”

The initiative will supply local groups including Your Downtown Guelph Friends, Chalmers Centre and North End Harvest Market.

Allergies to gluten, dairy, corn and nuts are just a few of the challenges for some facing food insecurity.

It’s something Caton has experienced firsthand.

“When you have disabilities like I do, sometimes you need those things to keep yourself low inflammatory. I went to the food bank before and when I went, there was none of those things for me there,” she said.

GROWING NEED

In neighbouring Waterloo region, the latest food bank report shows use of its Emergency Food Assistance Program has increased from 1 in 20 households last year to 1 in 14 household, a more than 42 per cent jump.

“We prepare 200 meals a week, and sometimes that’s not even enough,” said Kate Nixon of Your Downtown Guelph Friends.

Nixon says finding specific products for those with allergies makes meeting the demand even more challenging.

“The price points often very high for those products so we’re finding that it’s very difficult for people to access that,” Nixon said.

Donate for Disability is accepting donations at Guelph City Hall until Dec. 9.

But Caton hopes highlighting the concern will lead to much-needed donations to other food drives.

“If you have your favourite charity then please add these items to your donations,” she said. “Because it’s a year round need.”

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