Chilliwack food bank seeks help coping with demand

The Chilliwack Food Bank is asking for donations to help them keep up with an unprecedented spike in food bank users.

When Chilliwack Food Bank staff conducted their “hunger count” last month, they were shocked.

They’re seeing a spike in users unlike any they’ve seen before.

In March alone, they served 565 children under the age of 11, and 261 teens. On top of that, they served 4,673 adults. Combined, that’s 5,499 people served last month. The retail value of the amount of food served or distributed was upwards of $28,000.

Foot traffic is up more than 1,000 people from just one month prior, when 4,433 people were served in February.

But even more surprising, March and February numbers for last year were 3,771 and 3,240, respectively.

Chilliwack Food Bank manager Don Armstrong described the increase as “mind-boggling.”

The numbers represent the people who come in for food, whether it’s a few groceries to bring back to their family for the day, a meal at the soup kitchen, or a banana-box hamper of groceries which are given to registered patrons on a monthly basis.

In regards to the hampers specifically, the food bank is now in it’s fifth month of record-breaking numbers.

While 573 hampers were handed out in March 2015, 673 were distributed in March 2016. Similar year-over-year increases have been recorded each month since November.

The trend over these past few months is certainly an unusual and unprecedented one. Average increases in years prior were far less substantial.

“The concern is that the numbers are spiking, and it’s an ongoing trend,” said Tim Bohr, Community Ministries Director for Salvation Army Chilliwack.

“We don’t see it going away any time soon, and it’s impacting our inventory and our capacity to feed people.”

Why the increase in food bank users?

Armstrong and Bohr aren’t entirely sure. But they do know that they’re seeing a lot of new faces. Many are minimum-wage workers who and using the food bank to make ends meet, some new faces are homeless or high-risk individuals who have come from other municipalities.

One of their largest identifiable user demographics is seniors, who may not be able to pay for the rising cost of both housing and food while living on a fixed-income.

Essentially, the need for donations is rising.

With the growing demand as it is now, Armstrong estimates that they currently have about one month’s supply of food remaining.

“Then we’re in trouble,” he said.

Fortunately, the city-wide food drive is coming up on May 4. Service clubs, churches, sports teams, business groups and schools will go door-to-door collecting non-perishable food items.

“The idea is to canvas the entire city in one evening,” Bohr explained.

In addition to most needed food items (below), the food bank is also looking for toiletries. Shampoo and conditioner, toothbrushes and toothpaste, deodorant and feminine hygiene products are all needed.

For those who won’t be home on May 4, the Chilliwack Fire Department will also have a drive-thru drop-off bay open for donations from 6 a.m. to 9 p.m.

Anyone group interested in volunteering for the city-wide food drive can email Don at

Those who wish to drop-off donations at any time can do so at 45746 Yale Road. Keep in mind, for every $1 donated, the food bank can purchase $3 worth of food.

Food bank most needed items:

  • Peanut butter
  • Canned soups and stews
  • Canned fruits and vegetables
  • Dried pasta and tomato sauce
  • Lentils and beans
  • Powdered, canned or tetra packed milk
  • Baby formula and baby food
  • Canned fish and meat
  • Rice
  • Fruit and vegetable juices
  • Oatmeal and flour
Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

Atchelitz Threshermen’s big garage sale in Chilliwack goes ahead this weekend

The annual fundraiser for the association was delayed this year due to the COVID-19 pandemic

Sprinkler system extinguishes fire in industrial building in Chilliwack

Progress Way building had only minor fire, smoke and water damage thanks to sprinkler system

UPDATE: Suspect who once killed a man in jail was arrested in Chilliwack after truck fire

Jordan Cole Burt was taken into RCMP custody while wanted on an outstanding warrant

Two Abbotsford elementary schools record COVID-19 exposures, according to Fraser Health

‘Exposures’ defined as 1 positive case at school, ‘clusters’ as 2 or more, ‘outbreaks’ as widespread

UPDATE: Fatal collision Sunday leaves Chilliwack father and five children with minor injuries

Driver who T-boned family after running stop sign on McGuire Road died at the scene

B.C. reports 96 new COVID-19 cases, one hospital outbreak

61 people in hospital as summer ends with election

‘Unprecedented’ coalition demands end to B.C. salmon farms

First Nations, commercial fishermen among group calling for action on Cohen recommendations

Earthquake off coast of Washington recorded at 4.1 magnitude

The quake was recorded at a depth of 10 kilometres

B.C.’s top doctor says she’s received abuse, death threats during COVID-19 response

Henry has become a national figure during her time leading B.C.’s response to the COVID-19 pandemic

BC Liberals must change gears from election cynicism, focus on the issues: UBC professors

COVID-19 response and recovery is likely to dominate platforms

Join Black Press Media and Do Some Good

Pay it Forward program supports local businesses in their community giving

Is it time to start thinking about greener ways to package cannabis?

Packaging suppliers are still figuring eco-friendly and affordable packaging options that fit the mandates of Cannabis Regulations

B.C. could be without a new leader for multiple weeks after Election Day: officials

More than 20K mail-in voting packages were requested within a day of B.C. election being called

Dozens of Canadian venues to light up red in support of entertainment workers

Local facilities among dozens across Canada to participate in Light Up Live

Most Read