FOOD BANK JOURNAL: Quest for charitable status

70

Small service organizations like the YK Food Bank are common in most cities across Canada. They are created when a group or individual sees a need and does something to address it.

Depending on the organization’s objectives, its founders may choose to keep it small and register as a local society or expand into a larger non-profit or charity. While many of us use these terms to mean some sort-of service organization, they actually have different meanings and legal requirements placed on them.

The YK Food Bank is a registered non-profit society without charitable status. This means we can operate in the NWT and collect donations in the form of cash or food, but we can’t issue charitable receipts for those donations. While this status hasn’t really hindered our ability to receive donations, it has kept us from being able to pursue funding through grants or other government initiatives.

So we remain small and rely on the contributions of our community. So far, we’ve been able to stay afloat and provide food twice each month. When diminishing donations almost forced a break in our usual distribution, the community of Yellowknife stepped in. And while we are actively working towards getting our charitable status, our grassroots beginnings and connections with this community are important aspects of how we operate.

Behind the scenes, our community partners like Food Rescue or the Yellowknife Co-Op quietly provide continued support in collecting and distributing donations. Organizations like the Yellowknife Women’s Society or Salvation Army direct clients to our distributions or offer food supports of their own. It is this web of individuals, businesses, service organizations and even large corporations that weave together services and programs that provide for others in our community.

We are proud of this network and our place in it. But we do recognize that there is still much more that can be done to address food security both in Yellowknife and in the NWT more broadly. Our board of directors have a strategic plan and are ready to advance our goals, along with those of our partner organizations, with the aim of better addressing hunger and its root causes. We just need to get charitable status first.