Need for food bank in Salmon Arm keeps rising

Salvation Army estimates 3000 people per month in Salmon Arm rely on food bank.

Volunteers Pam Von Matt

Putting food on the table isn’t getting any easier for many Salmon Arm residents.

At the Salvation Army Food Bank, the numbers keep rising.

“Most months now it’s 3,000 people per month,” says the Salvation Army’s community services coordinator Dave Byers. “The demand is more.”

He’s grateful that the community is generous, although it’s difficult to keep up with the demand.

People using the food bank are entitled to eight hampers per year, which includes the Christmas hamper.

“Usually a single person takes out pretty much a full banana box full of food. It goes up from there depending on how many people (are in the household),” he says.

But the facility has a table where people can come in every day if they need to, to get whatever is on hand. It can range from bread and apples to cereals and canned foods.

“You just never know what’s going to be on the table,” says Byers. “It all depends day to day what we can get.”

He said the Salvation Army receives food about once a month from the National Food Sharing System of Food Banks Canada. The day after the interview he was heading to Vernon to pick up, among other things, a load of crackers.

Otherwise, it’s local donations.

“We’re always looking for protein – canned meats, pork and beans, we really need protein, peanut butters, to keep people warm this time of year,” Byers says. “Right now stocks are down so much, anything helps.”

At the Second Harvest food bank, coordinator Diana Mangold said donations have been pretty good.

She said Second Harvest averages 210 to 220 families per week.

“We’re still running steadily, around the same amount of people – we’re not seeing decreases.”

She said the last two weeks of December are usually slower for Second Harvest because people are getting help from elsewhere – “with Christmas hampers from the Salvation Army, and also relatives giving to them, that kind of thing.”

However, the need picks up in the new year, she says, when the gap between social assistance cheques seems to be longer.

“January and February are extremely tough.”

Regarding donations, Mangold said money is appreciated as volunteers must buy all their fresh produce when there’s none growing this time of year.

“Also we steadily go through personal hygiene-type items – shampoos, conditioners, laundry soaps, toothbrushes, toothpaste…”

Second Harvest operates Wednesdays from 4:30 to 6 p.m. and Fridays noon to 2 p.m.

It’s located at 360 Alexander Street NE, at the back of Salmar Classic Theatre facing the Ross Street parking lot.

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.

Byers notes that the Salvation Army also offers its meal program at its New Hope Community Church on Wednesdays. Doors open 11:30 a.m., food is served from 11:45 a.m. to 1 p.m. Approximately 100 people per week are served.

The church is located at 191 2nd Ave. NE, while the food bank is at 441 Third Ave. SW.

Byers said he’s currently looking for help with the Salvation Army kettles, particularly because donations are down. Call 250-832-9194.

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