With the holiday season approaching, the profile of those who need an extra hand putting food on the table in the Comox Valley is changing, according to the Comox Valley Food Bank.
Jeff Hampton, president of the organization, said while clients using the food bank and donations are both holding steady, the demographics of who is using the service has changed.
“A little less than half of our clients are on social assistance of some kind. There is now an increase of the working poor,” Hampton explained.
“At one time, we would never get people in here who were working. The dynamics are changing. Even working full time, $10-an-hour jobs just doesn’t cut it like it used to.”
Hampton said the food bank is very thankful for the donations it receives, particularly at this time of the year.
“The lion’s share of donations generally come in at this time of the year and it will hold us for awhile. There are all sort of fundraisers, especially international ones going on right now and a lot of people are donating. The public gets tapped out but they still continue to give to us — the ongoing generosity is amazing.”
At the end of the fiscal year, the food bank helped 7,379 households with 9,747 bags of food.
During the Christmas season, Hampton said the food bank will remain open for both donations and clients who need their services.
Although distribution day happens Thursdays, the food bank will be closed Dec. 26, but will reopen the next morning from 9:30 to 11. On Christmas eve, it will close at noon.
The food bank will be closed on New Year’s Day, but will be open for distribution Jan. 2.
Hampton added they will extend their hours a bit during the week for anyone wishing to drop off donations.
“Cash is preferable, but we can handle virtually anything,” he noted, and said they use a priority system to keep perishable foods.
Any foods they have in abundance and can’t distribute will be given to other organizations such as Habitat for Humanity, local soup kitchens or shelters, added Hampton.
“We keep passing it forward,” he said.
Although the food bank is celebrating its one-year anniversary at its 1-1491 McPhee Ave. location in Courtenay, Hampton noted plans are in place for recognizing the food bank’s 30th year of operation in the new year.
“We’re thinking of doing something in March; we just really want to say thank you to the people in the Comox Valley for their ongoing support.”
To donate food, drop off items at the McPhee location or at various bins around the area. For financial donations, drop off at the food bank or mail to P.O. Box 3028, Courtenay, B.C. V9N 5N3.