Over the last few weeks, food banks serving Ottawa-Gatineau have been raking in donations as residents expressed the generous spirit of the Christmas season.

 




But when Christmas ends, shelves at two of the area’s biggest food banks will begin to empty in the weeks and months that follow.

 




“The support drops off,” said Peter Tilley, executive director of the Ottawa Food Bank.

 




“People tend to think to feed a family at Christmas, but our biggest time of year is in February and March when families are struggling to pay the heating and hydro bills,” said Tilley.





Jean Pigeon, executive director of Moisson Outaouais, agrees. “We’re raising so much food around Christmastime, but by March, there’s nothing left. After Christmas comes the coldest months of the year.”





Although people were generous this holiday season — the Ottawa Food Bank collects up to 50 per cent of its revenue and a quarter of its annual food donations from mid-November through January — food banks are pounding home the message that hunger isn’t seasonal.





“There are lots of programs around Christmas that are running, but they only last for a week,” Pigeon said. “We’d like to keep the momentum going. People are hungry 365 days a year.





“People are doing a great job, but don’t forget about us during the year,” Pigeon added.



tracey.tong@metronews.ca