Labrador food banker praises Fight Hunger, Spark Change campaign for supporting ‘magical’ holiday meal program

‘It was such a feel-good thing’: Food banker says Walmart funding helped 2021 holiday meal program continue despite COVID, cost-of-living increases
Labrador West Ministerial Food Bank Coordinator Rebecca Burke.

“If you don’t own a mining company, life in Labrador is hard,” says Rebecca Burke, the coordinator of the Labrador West Ministerial Food Bank.

With the COVID-19 pandemic disrupting global supply chains and leading to increased food prices in Labrador and across the country, Burke says the soaring cost of living is resulting in a rise in new clients.

“We’re servicing seniors who we didn’t use to because the cost of living in Labrador is so high,” she said. “People who use to be donors are now clients.”

The donation-based food bank has been particularly reliant on donor funding to continue providing access to food and programming throughout the past year, including the Christmas Hamper Program that clients look forward to annually.

“It was a real town event,” Burke said of the Christmas program prior to the pandemic, when volunteers would convene at the local grocery store to assemble festive meal kits and deliver them to homes in need. “Delivery day was a magical day, but it broke every COVID rule.”

During the COVID outbreak that hit Labrador in late December, she added, the food bank had to “quickly reassure [its] clients that they were still going to have what they needed for Christmas, and then some.”

‘People really took pride in knowing they could go get their own groceries’

Using money from a donation of about $12,000 made by Walmart’s 5th annual Fight Hunger, Spark Change campaign, Burke said the Labrador West Ministerial Food Bank worked out a solution to give with dignity during the 2021 holiday season.

“We were able to price out the items for the Christmas Hamper Program and purchase vouchers from our local grocer,” she said. “Because we had the funding, we just had to navigate the safety of it all.

“Everybody ended up with a turkey and the dignity to go and buy their own groceries with their vouchers.”

The food bank also partnered with Trust Transit, a community transportation service launched in November in Labrador West, to help people in need overcome the lack of local public transportation options.

Trust Transit operator Adam Smith, who delivered Christmas vouchers to clients before driving them to the grocery store to buy all the fixings, said his passengers seemed very satisfied with the new approach.

“I think people really took pride in knowing they could go get their own groceries,” he said.


Walmart Canada is currently running its 6th annual national Fight Hunger, Spark Change campaign to raise funds for Food Banks Canada. Until March 16, the retailer hopes to raise enough funds to provide more than 10 million meals to help communities experiencing food insecurity.

Food Banks Canada supports a unique network of over 4,700 food-related organizations and agencies in every province and territory that assists Canadians making 1.3 million visits to food banks each month.

Customers are invited to join in the fight against hunger by:

  • Purchasing select products in-store and online. A donation will be made to Food Banks Canada, up to a maximum of $1.2 million. Partners include Campbell, Mars Canada, Kraft Heinz, Kellogg’s, Conagra, Danone, Maple Leaf, General Mills, Dare, Pepsi, Mondelez, Ferrero, Coca Cola, Unilever, and Grupo Bimbo.
  • Donating at the register or adding a cash donation to online grocery orders.
  • Donating non-perishable food items in-store at their local Walmart store.

Walmart Canada will also match customer donations up to a maximum of $820,000.