The 60 or so people cleared off Cliff Avenue in September are now living more stable lives in homes or apartments, a change which is being felt at the Friends in Need Food Bank.
“A lot of these people that were brought on, are now my clients,” said food bank operations supervisor Chuck Griffith.
“The outreach workers are bringing them in … to make sure they are being taken care of. I will see one outreach worker sometimes five times in a day. They’ll be coming back and forth with clients all day long.
“The outreach workers are doing a fantastic job getting them into us.”
That’s increased demand at the food bank. The numbers of hampers being given out each month is now between 750 and 800.
But the food bank is managing to cope by still being able to provide hampers to all registrants and most of what’s needed to the former campers.
“So far, so good,” said Griffith.
He added that the former Cliff Avenue residents are either sharing homes or living in basement suites, or apartments or in Alouette Heights supportive housing.
“They’ve been found places to put them all over Maple Ridge.”
A drop in donations to the food bank this Christmas season could make it tough for this spring and summer. Christmas is a time for stocking up for the year ahead.
Usually, the Christmas in the Park and Santa Claus Parade, which took place Saturday, brings in about 230 kilograms of groceries.
This time the food bank collected only about 53 kg.
Donations were also down from a Nov. 22 Chances Maple Ridge event.
“From our events that we’re doing, we’re just not seeing the response this year on donations.”
Two big events remain, though, which Griffiths hopes will allow the food bank to stock up.
This Saturday, outside all the big grocery stores in Maple Ridge and Pitt Meadows, firefighters will be collecting cash and food in their annual Firefighters for Families drive.
And on Friday, Dec. 18, the CP Holiday Train steams into town and stops at Port Haney station in Maple Ridge at 7:30 p.m. and at Harris Road in Pitt Meadows at 8:30 p.m.
Jim Cuddy of Blue Rodeo and his son Devin, as well as country singer Kelly Prescott will provide the entertainment.
The concert is free, but people are asked to bring a food donation to their local food bank in return. The food bank this time needs canned fruit, vegetables and tomatoes.
“We’re really hoping that the community comes out for that event.”
Griffith said donations depend on the state of the local economy, “and what I call the Christmas glow.”
But there are many charities from which people can choose.
“So we’re competing with a lot of different organizations.”