This holiday season two Salmon Arm food banks are asking residents to help out those less fortunate by giving cash donations over food.
Recent media controversy over what food banks are looking for as Christmas approaches has local charities clearing the air about what they really need.
Dave Byres of the Salmon Arm Salvation Army Food Bank says cash donations go further.
Volunteers can use the cash to shop for the most needed items that will fill the empty shelves.
As well, the Salvation Army has a close relationship with its clients and knows what each family is looking for.
Gift cards to local grocery stores are also appreciated.
A National Post article advised the public to give money instead of canned goods to increase the buying power of the food banks, using the example that locally every $1 in cash can buy $5 worth of food.
A concept that rings true to those at the Salvation Army in Salmon Arm.
People using the food bank are entitled to eight hampers per year, which includes the Christmas hamper. Those hampers will feed several thousand people, given most go to families and couples.
To fill the hampers volunteers will look for protein based meals, with pork, ham and turkeys to help make the holidays brighter for those in need.
The Salvation Army relies heavily on volunteers this time of year to help make Christmas a success.
Each month the Salvation Army serves approximately 3,000 individuals in the Salmon Arm area and the demand continues to grow.
Those who receive a Christmas hamper can also get other food items and necessities at Second Harvest this season.
Open two days a week, Wednesday and Friday, clients are welcome to drop by 360 Alexander Street NE for food.
Diana Mangold says they serve more than 200 clients that come in and pick items such as protein, veggies, fruit and non-perishables from arranged tables.
“Either cash or canned goods we will accept as donations, but cash works best for us because we can make it go further,” says Mangold.
She says sometimes people will bring in items they didn’t eat from their cupboards which tend to be expired or the same canned goods everyone else didn’t eat at home.
“We have a lot of the same type of canned food, we have tons of brown beans,” she explains. “We will use money to buy fresh food, personal hygiene items, and bulk items; like Kraft Dinner and soup.”
While Second Harvest does not give out Christmas hampers – it does provide extra services in the new year when the gap between social assistance cheques seems to be longer.
Second Harvest also operates thanks to a team of about 100 volunteers who donate their time for various services.
The Salvation Army Food Bank is open for donation drop-off on Mondays and Fridays from 8 a.m. to noon, Tuesdays and Thursdays from 8 a.m. to 2 p.m. and Wednesdays, 8 to 11 a.m.
Second Harvest operates Wednesdays from 4:30 to 6 p.m. and on Fridays from noon to 2 p.m.
Check out our ‘Guide to giving’ for this holiday season.