Food Banker Spotlight – Joan Clarkson, Helping Hand Food Bank

We are always interested in hearing more about the individuals in food banking across Canada! This month, our spotlight is on Joan Clarkson from Helping Hand Food Bank in Tillsonburg, ON.

What is your role in food banking?
[Retired] Coordinator for the Helping Hand Food Bank in Tillsonburg, Ontario. 

Describe a typical day in one word.

What was your inspiration to get involved in food banking?
I came in one day to drop off a cheque from the Lioness Club. Marian Pratt, who had been with the food bank since it’s beginning, “hooked” me in. I left my other volunteer roles and fell in love with the work of this food bank because it helps so many. 

What is your greatest achievement in your current role?
Three years ago, I started a backpack program that would provide morning snacks to children. We’ve contacted five area schools and now pack up to 60 bags of food for children. 

What is the greatest challenge in your current role?
One is retiring on August 31. The second challenge is all of the rules that have changed because of the [COVID-19] pandemic. In previous years, we’ve had a successful Thanksgiving food drive where people picked up food on every doorstep in Tillsonburg. This year, we’re asking our donors to purchase a grocery gift card and leave it at the store’s service desk for us to pick up. 

If you could have one wish granted that would address hunger in Canada what would it be?
My wish would be Basic Income for all because we have been adding seniors, the disabled and young people to our client list at an alarming rate. It truly is an “eat or pay rent” crisis. 

Which talent would you most like to have?
I would like to be a storyteller. 

If you could tell your younger self advice, what would it be?
Don’t judge other people because you don’t know what had happened to them. Be kind. 

Who are your heroes? Fictional or real life
People who see hunger and do something about it. The founders of our food bank have done an amazing thing. 

What is your idea of happiness?
Happiness is knowing I have made a difference. 

What is your motto?
A hungry child is not an option. 

Something quirky about you that others may not expect or know?
I have a terrible singing voice. I sing as loud as I can while I’m driving. 

Your theme song?
I can’t think of one but I always enjoy anything happy. 

Do you know a food bank or food banker that could be featured on our next Spotlight? Contact us at