Supplies of canned food and other non-perishables are “very, very low” at the Salvation Army food bank warehouse in Chilliwack.
“It is lower than I have seen it in a long time,” said Don Armstrong, food bank coordinator at the Salvation Army Care and Share Centre.
Only a few days worth of tuna, salmon and other canned meats remain in the warehouse. There is no canned fruit or tinned lunches, and only one palette of breakfast cereal left.
“We’re low on just about everything,” said Armstrong.
Chunky soups with snap-open lids are especially in demand, because it’s easy for those living rough.
The shortage actually started last year in the wake of the Interior wildfires of 2017.
“Normally at this time we would see about three palettes for each type of food,” Armstrong said, showing the empty space inside the warehouse.
Salvation Army officials will graciously accept donations of cash and non-perishables right now, and even perishable food and produce if they can be dropped off at the Care and Share Centre on Yale Road.
Non-perishables can go into Food Bank bins at local grocery stores.
Perishables can be dropped off and stored at the centre in the brand-new walk-in cooler donated to Chilliwack Sally Ann’s Food Bank a few months ago by Food Banks BC.
The inventory is down to this degree partly because Chilliwack jumped into action last summer to help wildfire victims by collecting semi trailers worth of food and supplies to be trucked up to the fire zones.
“But at the time we were feeding about 3,000 people who came here from the fires,” said Armstrong.
The Chilliwack Food Bank didn’t manage to recoup its losses in terms of stored food.
They serve about 75 people per day who are given about five days worth of groceries, on a monthly basis, not counting emergency hampers.
But there are other factors.
With school out, kids are missing out on the lunch programs they benefit from during the regular school year. So that is also creating more demand at the food bank where needy families come for groceries on an emergency basis, as well as increasing numbers of seniors.
“Summertime is when we’re hit the hardest,” Armstrong explained. He also said the last food drive did not yield what they needed in terms of donations.
He is not too worried that people will respond once they hear what is needed, however, given the community’s long-standing reputation for generosity.
“Chilliwack always comes through in the end. It’s been good that way,” he added.