Food bank looking for a new truck

Wanted: one heavy duty van, in good condition.

Price: By donation, if possible.

After the old van died before Christmas, the people at Friends in Need Food Bank are truck shopping so they can pick up food donations from around the community and keep the shelves stocked.

“We are right now, vanless,” said Joanne Olson, executive-director with the food bank.

“We need something that’s heavy duty, that could carry a couple pallets. A one-tonne would be great.”

The food bank had used the van for eight years and recently repaired it, but it’s now beyond repair, Olson said.

“We spent an awful lot of money on it this year that we were hoping to keep it going, but then it died.”

Over Christmas, the food bank used a loaner van provided by Maple Ridge Chrysler, while realtor Mike Huber is also lending his truck.

But the food bank is still facing the new year without a vehicle.

This year, the food bank handed out almost 800 Christmas hampers, bags of groceries with all the trimmings, including either a ham, chicken or turkey.

That’s 150 more than last year, reflecting a steady increase in the number of hampers given out monthly by the food bank on Dewdney Trunk Road.

About 700 families now get help from the food bank, 100 more than last year, a result of a leaner economy, Olson said.

“It’s been creeping up over the year.”

While many charities are focused on seasonal events, Friends in Need depends on its fundraising over Christmas to last the entire year.

Its goal this year was to raise $75,000 to keep the groceries on the shelves for the next 12 months. Olson was still adding up the donations on Tuesday but said, “I think we’re going to be a little bit short.”

While there may be a cash shortage, “I’d say we’ve done really well on food.”

This year’s appearance of CP Rail’s Holiday Train raised $20,949 for the food bank, just below last year’s total of $21,113. Maple Ridge and Pitt Meadows firefighters, the Billy Miner Pub, CP Rail and Meadowridge Rotary Club helped in the fundraising event at Port Haney Station.

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