The Comox Valley Food Bank is calling on the community for help with fundraising, volunteering and finding a new home.
Though it just moved last July to 1491 McPhee Ave. in Courtenay, the food bank is looking for a new home, which would be permanent.
The current location across from Courtenay Elementary School is the food bank’s seventh location in nearly 30 years and Comox Valley Food Bank Society director Doug Ante says it really needs a permanent location.
“It’s been a serious problem over the years with the food bank, that we get established somewhere, people know where we are and then we have to move,” he says. “And that creates expense to us, which means less food for our clients and all the kerfuffle of moving.”
To ensure the next location is permanent, the society wants to own it. The food bank has saved about $100,000, so far, and is looking for either a property with a building already on it or an empty property it could build on, preferably, zoned light industrial. The food bank needs warehouse space and off-street parking space for its clients.
Meanwhile, society president Jeff Hampton notes the food bank faces more pressure to try to feed its growing client list each year.
“We’re seeing more and more people coming in all the time and we’re going into more daily food distribution as well,” he says. “We’ve got a phenomenal amount of people coming in.”
Each year the average number of households served steadily grows. In 2008/09, 596 households were served by the food bank per month. That number rose to 667 by 2011/12.
Almost 7,150 emergency food hampers were handed out in 2008/09, and that number climbed to 7,998 by 2011/12.
Clients are eligible for one food hamper per month, plus the food bank is open mornings from Monday to Friday so the public can drop by for food like produce and dairy, as it is available.
Ante adds clients line up before the food bank opens in the morning in an effort to receive some of this daily food, and with no outside cover, Ante notes these people are often standing in rain.
“A lot of these people have health problems and, you know, we want to try and find a place where they can be under cover to start with and not compound those problems,” he continues, noting oftentimes mothers bring their young children with them to wait in line because they are the children’s only caregivers.
Ante notes of the nearly 1,250 people served per month, over 840 were adults, but over 400 were children.
In an effort to create a more regular funding situation and budget for the future, the society encourages community donors to sign up for 12 monthly payments rather than one-time donations.
The food bank is also looking for food donations, donations of goods for a fundraising auction and volunteers to help at the food bank or with fundraising.
For more information about the food bank, visit www.comoxvalleyfoodbank.com or call 250-338-0615.