Agape Centre Food Bank in Cornwall Ontario Cries Poor on CTV Ottawa – Time to Look Within – Editorial by Jamie Gilcig

CFN – Sometimes you have to look in the mirror and ask some tough questions.   Sometimes changes need to be made.    It’s one of these crossroads that the Agape Centre in Cornwall Ontario is facing.

Today CTV in Ottawa came to Cornwall and pointed to empty shelves.    Yes times are hard, yes there’s probably more demand for food, but there’s some very big questions to ask.

Cornwall as a community has a history of being very generous for good causes, but poor management practices and cronyism has led to bloated payrolls, lawsuits from staff, and people being turned off to helping the facility.

One gentleman shared with me that after the Agape took $200K in cash from the city would stop donating.   Another pointed out a local meat vendor that stopped donating.   When we moved to Cornwall my wife called to volunteer for Christmas.  We never got a phone call back; not even one to thank us for our interest, but that perhaps we could help in other ways?

The steep decline at the Agape really started after they changed directors.   Someone was brought in that really wasn’t experienced running a food bank or working at that level with the community.

Someone with experience would know for example that if you show favortism to certain cliques that you risk alienating many other people.  If you friends are tight in certain events instead of letting a broader scale of support make magic happen the chance of more people becoming supporters is greater.

We did a story last year on the Agape after our former sponsor, the Best Western requested it.


A very different picture than the one in the video clip in the CTV story.   LINK

Do food bank shelves really empty to that degree that quickly if a facility is being run well?   How many food banks rely on buying food  as compared to gaining via donation even in trying times?

Cornwall is a very giving community.  For media to come in from out of town and portray our city as not supporting a food bank without really digging is kinda irksome and unfair.

Food banks are critical to the life support of those in the community that need it most.  They should never be political.  There should never be cronyism involved.

Perhaps it’s time to review the pay structure there and decide if perhaps the payroll is a bit top heavy?  Maybe more people can volunteer and some of those dollars go towards food?  Maybe someone can be brought in to run the Agape that would reach out to all of the community instead of a selected few?  There’s no good reason for the Agape’s shelves to be empty.

Sometimes what we see in the mirror isn’t flattering.   Turning away or closing one’s eyes rarely resolves the situation.

Action is necessary.   Community leadership is necessary.   This report by CTV is the bell being rung.  The community can and will pull together if the Agape Centre is cleaned up including maybe some of the long term board members who ultimately made the choice in who to hire to run the facility.   Heck I’m sure after the CTV report there will be some short term improvement of donations.   Like the gentleman said on camera.

If every person dropped off one can…

And finally isn’t it shameful that a city manager could cause over a million dollars in settlements and legal bills supported essentially by the mayor and council while people go hungry in Cornwall Ontario?

Maybe that’s something the people of Cornwall should think about come the next municipal elections….

Jamie Gilcig – Editor – The Cornwall Free News

(Comments and opinions of Editorials, Letters to the Editor, and comments from readers are purely their own and don’t necessarily reflect those of the owners of this site, their staff, or sponsors.)



  1. The truth is finally being told. Poverty is not a business and the clique can now see it should not be a cause for a money grab for the few and friends to get rich. If you want the truth read the words of JG and if you want lies watch their video. It is funny how stacked the shelves where as they were when I left to see now how bare they are NO EXCUSE for this. Thank you Jamie. The city will respond and the clique will pat themselves on their backs and nothing will be done to hit the real issue of poverty in our community.Let them make it a photo op for our MP, MPP and the 360 Pitt ass clowns.

  2. I have donated both cash and product to the Agapé Centre in the past but when they teamed up with Farmboys to compete with local produce vendors, I decided to find a different charity to give to.

  3. @ Admin- I would say that a manager who would go to an out of town media to complain about lack of support from this City should be fired immediately. This is very poor management because it shames the citizens of Cornwall when they were not adequately informed about the need in a respectful manner and given a chance to contribute.

    As a taxpayer and homeowner I think the Mayor and the council need to address this with the citizens a.s.a.p. and come up with long term solutions. If indeed there are 1000 people in need of the food bank per month then these 1000 can be organized into a force to canvas the whole city to collect food and make local contributions to our food bank. Local people can grow food to contribute to the food bank every year. Cold storage can be arranged. This is a very do-able strategy. Families in need can also be paired up with people who have extra resources and put a more personal connection into place. Studies clearly show that the more a donator knows about the person they are giving to, the more willing they are to contribute in the long term. Alot of people think that those who use the food bank are just using their food money for drugs, smokes and cell phones so they need to be disabused of that notion.

  4. Jamie, I think this is a perfect opportunity for you to make the most of your audience and organize a food collection for the families of Cornwall. Just one can? I think you can do so much better. It is a New Year and I think it would be wonderful for you to start it off making positive change. Remember, it will be easy to rally people into being negative and moaning about what is going wrong…but do not leave it at that today. I have seen the kids that this food benefits…hell, we all know families in need so how about a collection from CFN? A show of cans:)

  5. Author

    Now Angela; don’t shoot the messenger. Btw, I tried to organize sponsored lunches with Agape at the time of our story on them in 2011; but sadly politics got in the way of that project.

    See it’s easy for you to point fingers after you’ve given up on our community as you have and moved away. It’s easy to point a finger at me for writing this story too. It’s much harder and in the end more productive to look at the core reasons why Agape is in this situation it is.

    I would love to put the full force and power of CFN towards helping my community. I always have and always will. It’s part of the responsibility any local media should have.

    You have a lovely day now.

  6. Oh, Jamie, I was not pointing fingers. I actually think you can make a positive difference. And, for the record, last time I checked, I had not changed any of my giving habits even though I have indeed changed my address. I am still as committed to Cornwall and area as I have always been. Our business remains in town ( even my spending remains local ) and nothing has changed. But thanks for resorting to your defensive measures of attacking on a personal level and biting a hand offered in friendship and community spirit. I wont do that again. You want change? Then make it. Don’t just sit on the sidelines and complain.

  7. Author

    Hi Angela. lol, I think it was your attacking me darlin’ 🙂 (not all attacks are nasty and sputtering, right? )

    No defensive measures taken. I just call them as I see them as you and just about everyone in the world does.

    Yes, we all can “Be the Change” as we all should be. Glad to see we have common ground and both care about Cornwall and people.

    Let’s have coffee one of these days; the Grind?

  8. Many people here have made great ideas to help the Agape in the paast as the ones suggested by Dont Hold Back! (post2) but these managers were not interested. They say they are a food bank and soup kitchen only and they only accept any suggestions they make. They put themselves in this mess now let them dig themselves out. The community will provide for our needy as they have always done in the past. I think if the Agape were to be run by caring people as is the House of Lazarus in Mountain instead of managers trying to run it as a business the Agape would be better off and our poorer better served.

  9. Angela, It’s easy to say why don’t you do it but I know that Jamie already works 18 hours a day providing information to the community and fighting off attacks from the cliques and cronies.
    Anything that CFN does is immediately attacked by these local nihilists.

    What you should be asking is why the people who get paid to do it, aren’t.

  10. It’s very infortunate but there is plenty and plenty of repeat abuse by people who use the Agape. I see first hand people collecting welfare use it for drugs and alcohol before food, then stop in the Agape for additional hand outs. The other side to this coin is I also see the people at the Agape hand in hand with certain Bobs at the City, in other words the clique. Unless people start doing something about all this, nothing will change. The ignorance and abuse comes from everywhere.

    The people collecting off the system need to seriously be investigated and charged with fraud, lose their monthly free bee, made to pay it all back and get out and find a job like the rest of us.

    It’s a sad state the City Hall seems to always be named in any news media for being the liars and cheats they are but fact is from the Bobs up and down, this is real, maybe NOW the Agape Centre will cut ties with these people I firmly believe people of Cornwall have seen and heard enough that supporting this centre is coming to an end.

    Time for these people to walk away, quit period, you’ve done more harm and made this city look so bad in so many ways that you should seriously be ashamed, but then again the clique and egos are way to big to see the truth.

  11. Maybe that Greer guy should donate his college stipend to Agape. His wife runs it.

  12. Ms. Blais, why did you go to CTV and not use local media for your plea? I bet Mr. Peters gave you that advise correct? You see Ms. Blais, your actions only proved what really is going on, yourself and the clique will do anything to not use CFN for any type of coverage, proof by your actions your all in the same bed. Quit you do not deserve your job and shamming Cornwall for what you did is disgusting to say the least, thank you for publicity we did not need.

  13. Hi,

    My name is Phil. I’m a student studying at University of Waterloo. Born and raised in Cornwall – and intend to return to the city to run my own business.

    I’d just like to comment, and say I’m ashamed at some of the comments and some of the articles on this web site. But specifically this one. I’m embarrassed to say this is my city, and I’m embarrassed to say that they’re people in my city write and comment things that I have seen above.

    Let me be clear, I’m upset that the food bank is facing difficulties, but I’m more upset at the people who point fingers at the staff and supporters of an organization that is just trying to help our neighbours.

    I live a problem solving life style. I’m on my way to being an accredited engineer from one of the best Universities in the World. Would it be too much to ask that rather then defending each other and pointing fingers that maybe you go and organize a food drive at your works? Put a bucket in the staff lounge? Get permission to stand out side of local grocery stores collecting. Maybe…I don’t know, DO SOMETHING to solve the problem the community is facing.

    And To Jamie: I’d like to make quite a few comments, but I will only point out you have a typo in paragraph 6, line 2. Should read “your” not “you”. Maybe a paper isn’t the best choice of carrear for you.

    Thank you for reading.


  14. Ben or is it Phil??? Jamie had a typo? come on you can’t even get your name correct. As you stated and I quote “I’m embarrassed to say this is my city, and I’m embarrassed to say that they’re people in my city write and comment things that I have seen above”. Well BenPhil maybe be embarrassed of what these people have done with the City of Cornwall instead now that’s something to be embarrassed about.

  15. @City BS I agree 100% with the abuse of the Agape Center…. There are lots of things people who seem to be in need can do to help themselves.. cut down on the booze cigs etc.. lotto tickets etc.. and street people here it is ridiculous..
    The giving to these people needs to be monitored better i would think.. Not to disgrace the person but when one is really in need they should and probably would nto have a problem with it..

  16. maybe cornwall needs an ottawa style mission. people with addiction problems need somewhere to turn for food and shelter. if counselling can be added it would be great from what ive seen it is hard to get help if you need it e.g. rehab has a long waiting list. families are suffering from this problem and are often unable and ill equipped to face a challenge of this kind. if people have doubts about the use of their donation funds i think the salvation army still provides for the needy

  17. Well I gave everyone a few weeks rests from my posts since I am afflicted with more arthritis and a pinched nerve. When reading past posts of homelessness in Cornwall and now this column about Agape needing help I ask myself where are the rich people of Cornwall. Well like usual living the high life in their ivory towers and their limousines and don’t care at all about the little guy. Someone mentioned that the mayor should look into this and since when is the mayor of any use except for making millions of dollars of a hockey rink that seniors and poor people will not use but only the rich and many going hungry.

    Someone mentioned about Ottawa’s shelter and I can tell you that it is no place to live at all. There are so many druggies and winoes here in Ottawa and they are at fault for most of the problems. Not too many years ago I was in a lab downtown with my daughter and I saw one young girl in her teens getting new needles from the lab and this was in winter. This girl was tattoed, no winter clothes or anything that kept her warm. This is the kind of people that you see in those shelters – druggies and drunks. The children suffer with these kinds of people.

    Poverty sucks and there are many who are working and living off the food banks. Salaries cannot pay for the humoungous rents, humoungous food bills, etc.

    When I lived in Cornwall I helped people by giving what I could myself and saw people in need. The same is true here in Ottawa where I saved one lady from having one of her children taken away by CAS because the teacher was about to call them. The teacher of the child in question was in the same class as my daughter and the teacher asked me to talk to the mother first since I knew her. Well I did and gave her my daughter’s older snowsuit and told her to make sure that her children were well dressed or else she would lose her children (she had 4).

    Just like Mr. Finnerty’s video which I saved: People are going hungry in this town while the fat cats live in their ivory towers and in their limosines. I tip my hat to Mr. Finnerty even though I am a woman. This is a man that I highly respect. He told the truth. I don’t watch TV and didn’t listen to that video yet but it isn’t the first time that I saw about Cornwall’s poverty problem here in Ottawa. One time a few years or more back someone mentioned about Cornwall being impoverished. A nice thing to say isn’t it when a town can go and build millions of dollars of a hockey rink on illegal funds and cannot feed and clothe its people nice thing Mr. Mayor. I think mayor you better take down that rink and feed the people.

  18. Jules, stop the nonsense or if your going to continue them move back to Cornwall and run for Mayor then make all the change you desire but until that happens stop disrespecting Cornwall, you moved out of here so move on please.

  19. Just a question: The Agape centre made a huge garden this past summer to help the food kitchen. When I asked why wouldn’t those who are physically able to work be made to sow and cultivate the garden. The answer I got was the recipients had no means of tranportation. It seems to me that the city along with other groups that help the needy could come up with some type of arrangement with the city buses or the school buses to get them to the site. Thinking if this happened, there would be less dependent people using the system.

  20. City BS I didn’t ask for your opinion. Your mayor cannot get along with staff and the rich are destroying things in Cornwall something awful. It doesn’t take a genius to see what is going on in Cornwall. I even read one time in the Ottawa Citizen Newspaper when someone commented on Cornwall being impoverished. Well if a town is impoverished you don’t go and build multi million dollar hockey rinks and with money that was stollen from American investors as well as some Canadians and Europeans, etc. This is corruption to the core.

    Nobody can live on $525./month on welfare that is for sure. Government housing is needed badly. There are many people going to be hungry and one meal a day is not enough at the Agape Centre and yes poor management indeed whether it be Agape Centre as well as the town. The whole town is one big boondoggle of a mess.

    Another thing is that poor people cannot afford smokes or booze nor anything else. It takes lots of money just to survive. I don’t have to live in Cornwall – I was intelligent enough to have left and never to return ever again. The good people have all left and many are dead and dying who are left behind and others are rich robbing the poor. The best thing that any young person can do who is in high school at the present time – LEAVE CORNWALL and DON’T BURY YOURSELVES THERE.

  21. Author

    Jules please get off it. Cornwall is better than a lot of places. Yes, there are some evil politicians that are hurting our fair city, but the core of Cornwall is pretty darn good.

    I’m sure time will fix things and our city will progress one battle at a time.

  22. One more thing Jamie about transportation that they complained about not being able to get around to tend the garden at the Agape Centre. Cornwall is mighty small and people are able to walk it. I did from one end to the other. There is no excuse whatsoever for not being able to help out. I don’t buy that one bit. The corruption is so bad in Cornwall and many changes are needed and they can’t wait any longer before it goes under and I mean under.

  23. There is something else Jamie that I thought about and that is helping the poor kids in schools to make sure that they are fed. There can be breakfasts held for these kids and lunches eg. sloppy joes and the like. Kids need food in order to function. There are many needy kids for sure. I think that this is one idea that people can put money towards. This is done right here in Ottawa and many big cities have this going on because many people are poor and cannot meet the demands of food. I think that this is a good project. I also think that people on social assistance can do a lot to help themselves. I am not one for dishing out everything to them and that they just sit around and get all the freebies. I believe in people volunteering to help out with different projects and give them a chance in life to make something out of themselves. Sitting around home is not healthy and what is healthy is getting out in the community and contributing. That is one thing that I thought about.

  24. @ Ben…was just doing some back reading. Thank you for the hilarious post “To Jamie: I’d like to make quite a few comments…you have a typo in paragraph 6, line 2. Should read “your” not “you”. Maybe a paper isn’t the best choice of carrear for you.”

    That was a joke, right? Carrear? Oh you university kids. No wonder your profs cry themselves to sleep

  25. Author

    probably why St. Lawrence College refuses to give us interns Soc 🙂

  26. Where I live there is a food bank here that is run once a month. The food is donated by the grocers and from the people of this community. Now I do not get social services but live on a small survivor’s pension so I must rely on the food bank for that help once a month as I have bills and must pay for diabetic pills and diabetic strips which are expensive – I do not qualify for help from Ontario Works because of this small pension.

    The one thing that I dislike the most is that you -sorry for the expression- Butheads would get together and do some brainstorming I think you should keep your personal dislike for one another off the website because it is not sutable for you to do so.

    As for Jules saying that people can walk to help with the gardening did you ever think that some people are unable to do so because of arthritis or someother problem that might prevent them from walking very much.

    And another thing is people who are on Ontario Works are allowed to only $372 a month for rent which must include hydro because they do not give extra for that and $150 for food which do not go very far as food is expensive to buy.

    Put boxes in stores for people to drop can goods in to go to the food bank.

    I was thinking of moving to Cornwall but am beginning to wonder if I should.

    Thank you for taking the time to read this and I do hope something gets done for this problem. Ask the Harvest food bank in Schreiber, Ontario how they run their program; I pretty sure you would be enlightned on how profient they are. Good luck to Corwall on it’s food bank problem.

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