The Sunshine Coast’s food banks are rallying for the fourth annual Coastwide Foodbank Drive this April.
The drive is to address a growing need in the community as local food banks report marked rises in usage.
In the first three months of 2023, St. Bartholomew’s Food Bank in Gibsons gave out food for about 150 more people than in the same months last year, according to Susan Kimm-Jones of St. Bart’s. In 2022, that food bank saw a 67 per cent increase in food hamper clientele. “The increase in demand at both St. Bart’s Food Bank and the hot lunch program has resulted in much higher expenditures on meat, dairy products, and fresh fruit and vegetables tripling over 2021 costs,” said Kimm-Jones in a Coastwide Foodbank Drive press release.
The local Salvation Army services have seen a 20 per cent increase in use of their programs over the past six months, according to Darrell Pilgrim of Salvation Army Ministries. Earlier this month, they had a record 50 people attend their meal and foodline program in just one day.
“Clearly, many in our communities have exhausted their resources, are struggling to put food on the table and are turning to our local food banks to meet their basic nutritional needs,” said the press release. “Worrying recent trends indicate not only a marked increase in new clients but also the return of many clients who have not been to a food bank in years.”
While the endeavour has been virtual the past three years, there are in-person collection drives at grocery stores on April 1, from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m.: in Gibsons at Super-Valu and IGA, in Sechelt at Claytons Heritage Market and the Independent, as well as at Wilson Creek IGA and Pender Harbour IGA.
Throughout the month, cash donations will be accepted at coastwidefoodbankdrive.ca. “These donations allow food banks to augment nonperishable items and provide proteins, dairy products and fresh fruit and vegetables for nutritious, appealing meals and hampers,” said the press release.
Editor's note: The print version of this story says that in the first two months of 2023 St. Bartholomew’s Food Bank in Gibsons gave out food for about 150 more people than in the same months last year – it is in fact the first three months.