Boundary Community Food Bank (BCFB) numbers have increased in the last few months and if this trend continues it could mean more need for community support with just seven weeks until Christmas.
October’s numbers reached 288 this year, compared to 189 in 2012 – a rise of almost 100 new clients. This number is closer to the 300 clients the food bank had in November of 2012.
President of BCFB, Larry Dickerson is aware of the trend in numbers increasing just before Christmas, but is alerted to the rise arriving a month early.
Food banks across Canada keep track of their monthly clients. This year, Food Banks BC reported feeding 94,000 clients across the province while Food Banks Canada reported feeding 833,000 people in 2013 compared to 872,379 last year.
The food bank is run by around 25 volunteers and relies on the generosity and support of Grand Forks community members for non-perishable and perishable food items as well as financial donations that allow more flexibility to provide what is needed most.
“Our community is really good for supporting us and we are happy for that, especially for a community of this size, partly business, industries and individuals,” says Dickerson.
The food banks has been operating for 25 years and the Grand Forks branch provides on average 200 plus hampers to families, couples and singles each month and with an increase of 15 per cent including seven per cent more children the BCFB is seeing a trend of more families in need.
The BCFB’s records only date back to 2008 and show a steady 27 per cent increase in the last five years with 1454 hampers provided in 2012 compared to 1142 in 2008.
Although the food bank is located centrally in Grand Forks it reaches as far west as Bridesville, east of Christina Lake to Poulson Summit and north to Beaverdell including members from Greenwood, Rock Creek and Midway communities.
Each town has its own unique food share charity but individuals are drawn to the BCFB because of the diverse selection of food including fresh produce. In the case of Greenwood’s Evangel Chapel Food Bank the menu is limited to non-perishable items due to lack of cold storage.
In Grand Forks the local fruit and vegetable growers have shown their support by contributing left over fresh produce to those in need making sure nothing goes to waste.
“We are already setting up meetings to order ahead from local growers for next year,” commented Dickerson. “We would like to see more nutritious donations coming in.”
Hampers containing non-perishable foods like canned fish, soups, baked beans, pasta and cereal are boxed by Dickerson’s team of volunteers each month at a “work party”.
They are ready for when the food banks doors open each Tuesday at 10 a.m. alongside eggs, margarine, bread, some fruits and vegetables, basics like rice, flour and meat if available.
With Christmas fast approaching a few extra hands would be put to good use boxing hampers. Hampers are placed according to whether it is for a single person, couple or family.
Volunteers are expected to commit one to two morning or afternoon shifts per month on a month-to-month basis with many volunteers giving more of their time.
The BCFB will not be providing special Christmas hampers this year which is a job taken on by the Gospel Chapel.
Co-ordinator for the Christmas Hamper Association, Roxanne Smith would like to see non-perishable food items especially Stove Top brand stuffing, gravy mix and any kind of powdered hot chocolate and specialty drinks donated this year.
Food items can be bought to the food bank at 7419-2nd Street on Tuesdays or dropped at the donations bins at Overwaitea, Extra and BuyLow Foods.
Financial donations (tax receipts available) can be brought to the food bank or mailed to PO Box 1052 Grand Forks BC VOH 1H0.
To volunteer please contact Larry Dickerson 250.442.2800
Donations for the Community Christmas Hamper Program can be bought to Gospel Chapel 7048 Donaldson Drive Tuesdays, Wednesdays and Thursdays between 8-3pm.