Jeff Hampton didn’t plan on becoming president of the Comox Valley Food Bank – in fact, he wasn’t even sure if he wanted the position. But agreeing to fill in as interim president led to nearly thirteen years at the helm of the local non-profit.
On Jan. 24 at the Food Bank’s Annual General Meeting, Hampton stepped down as president, a position he has held since 2006.
“There’s many different ways of doing things and people get tired of one person doing it their way. So I thought, we’ll let somebody else try it,” said Hampton.
Hampton’s involvement with the organization dates back to two weeks after the food bank opened thirty-five years ago.
“I started at the bottom and worked all the way up to the top,” he said.
In 1988, he joined the board of directors and sat on the board until March of 2006 when past president Andy Jackson became sick and needed someone to take over as president while he was in the hospital.
“I said I’d do it until Andy got better,” recalled Hampton. “As it was, he passed away the next morning, so I kept it, and each year I was just re-elected.”
But when Hampton first became president there was talk of shutting the food bank down. Jackson had been the driving force behind the organization and the board wasn’t sure if it would be able to survive without him.
“When Andy was sick and passed, there was a decision to be made at that time – well do we let the food bank pass with him, because he was the one that took it on, he nurtured it, he wanted to make it succeed,” said Hampton.
To determine if there was still a need for the service, Hampton went around to local professionals, organizations and community members and heard, in a resounding consensus, that there was. So, the food bank was kept open.
Hampton has seen the food bank’s transformation from selling firewood for funds in its first couple years, to reaching the level of community support it has now. He has also been involved in each of the food bank’s seven moves.
“I think last year, there was over 22,000 banana boxes full of food. It’s coming in constantly,” he said. “The truck comes out every day five days a week and brings in truckloads and we turn it around and pass it to the people.”
Though Hampton has stepped down as president, his involvement with the food bank won’t stop. He says he will continue to volunteer and stay on as a member of the society, but with his commitments lessened, he is looking forward to having more time to spend at home.
“Eventually, I might come back to the board. We’ll see,” he said.
New president elected
Throughout his 10 years with the food bank, Paul Macknight has been a director-at-large, board secretary, vice-president and is now the newest president of the non-profit.
In September 2010, Macknight started with the organization as a volunteer and less than a year later, joined the board.
“Of all the societies that help people out there, I’ve always thought the distribution of food was something that was on the front lines, and I enjoy that,” he said.
The food bank’s core values of providing healthy, nutritious food to those in need will not change under Macknight’s leadership, and he is excited to start discussions with the board about where the organization should go next.
“My leadership style is to ask the board to bring forward their ideas that they want to push and from there we’ll collectively decide what direction we want to go as far as the vision for the food bank.”
Macknight says he is excited to jump into this new role and pick up where Hampton left off.
“All of us are very happy that Jeff served the way that he did and we’re really proud of the work that he accomplished. This is just a new season of time with a bit of change.”