Chilliwack Community Food Bank shelves are bare.
“It’s never been this low before,” says Don Armstrong, food bank manager at the Chilliwack Salvation Army.
There’s been a huge increase in the hunger need in Chilliwack in recent months. Last month, the food bank provided 3,342 free meals to people in need.
This is a significant increase from July of 2014, when 2,327 people were served.
Thursday’s stock-count didn’t take long. The food bank shelves are completely out of stock for some of the most crucial items.
The most concerning shortages are: chunky soup, pork and beans, and canned meats – all of which are completely gone.
These items provide essential protein, and are great because they can easily be distributed and eaten right on the street, if necessary.
“We’re struggling right now, big time,” Armstrong stresses.
Tinned lunches, like spaghetti or ravioli have also all been consumed. Even the instant noodles, which are normally in abundance due to their low cost, are all out.
One reason for the spike in demand is that the school food programs, which feed kids in low-income families, do not take place in the summers.
“When the families don’t get fed in the summer, they come to us,” Armstrong explains. “We look after them, but when there’s not enough food on the shelves, we have to buy everything,” which is very pricey.
The food bank won’t send people away hungry, but it becomes very expensive if they need to foot the bill for all of the food.
If they were to pay to fill the food hampers, which ideally will feed a family for a week, it would cost them $22,418.75 for just one month.
“Anyone that can help us out, we could use it,” says Armstrong.
Things like fresh fruits and vegetables are always a bonus, and are often made into jams or soups to feed as many people as possible. But “every little thing helps us right now,” Armstrong says.
“An expensive item that we don’t often get is coffee,” Armstrong points out. If it’s on a 2-for-1 sale at Save On Foods, it would be a much-appreciated donation.
Drop off food or financial donations at the Salvation Army Care and Share Centre at 45746 Yale Road, or in the drop-off bins at your nearest grocery store. Even The Progress has a food donation bin.
Food Banks Canada is gearing up for #HungerWeek next month, September 21-25. The goal of the week is to raise awareness about the 4 million Canadians living with food insecurity. Visit hungerawarenessweek.ca to learn more.