West Island Assistance Fund implements new screening for food basket recipients

The West Island Assistance Fund is changing its food basket criteria. Global News/David Sedell

The West Island Assistance Fund (WIAF) has been serving the community for more than 50 years.

They offer food baskets, a low-cost furniture outlet and run a thrift store in Roxboro.

People of all income levels are invited to support their thrift store, but food baskets, which are prepared daily and are offered to those eligible twice a month, are meant for those really in need.

“Anybody in low-income, we serve them — any country, any colour, any language, we are here for them,” said Claudine Campeau, the executive director of the WIAF.

In the summer, Campeau was short-staffed and took over looking after applications. That is when she saw a few surprises.

“We caught a woman with her two daughters going to private school, and we got someone else with over $10,000 in their bank account,” said Campeau.

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So the organization is changing its criteria to receive food baskets.

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Previously, people had to show proof of address and proof of revenue, but now the organization will be looking at bank statements going back several months.

There is a lot of what Campeau calls “hidden poverty” on the West Island, so the longtime advocate knows that sometimes a “wealthy”-seeming person is not in fact, but the organization says it needs to be able to verify that it really is those in need who are receiving the food baskets.

“We were refusing asylum seekers because we don’t have enough baskets, that is not OK,” said Campeau.

Now that the new rules are in place, Campeau says they will be able to include some baskets for new arrivals.

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