Glenn Macdonald piles potatoes in a crate at the Friends In Need Food Bank on Thursday. Fresh vegetables

Glenn Macdonald piles potatoes in a crate at the Friends In Need Food Bank on Thursday. Fresh vegetables

Food drive to help Friends in Need

Drop your donations off on Sept. 20 to held the Maple Ridge food bank fill its shelves

Not everyone will receive a bag on their doorstep for the B.C. Thanksgiving Food Drive, but there are still plenty of ways to donate.

Between Monday and Wednesday next week, donation bags along with information fliers will be dropped off at households throughout Maple Ridge and Pitt Meadows.

Anyone wishing to donate can fill up the bag and leave it on their front doorstep on collection day – Saturday, Sept. 20, before 9:30 a.m. – for volunteers to pick up.

This year, though, there are simply not enough volunteers  to reach every home in both communities.

Even so, in previous years only 20 per cent of households that received a bag made a donation.

This is a vulnerable time of the year for the Friends in Need Food Bank, as stocks are low, says Josh Penner, assistant director of the B.C. Thanksgiving Food Drive.

“When Christmas comes, there are lots of donations to the food bank, But right now, it is empty,” said Penner.

And the number of people using the food bank are increasing.

Thirty two per cent of those who use the Friends In Need Food Bank are children, while 30 per cent are seniors.

Chuck Griffith, operations manager at Friends In Need, has seen monthly numbers rise in the past four years to 750 families a month from 500.

“We have topped as high as 800 in one single month in this last year. Our needs are there and they are not going away,” he said.

Mary Robson, executive director of Friends In Need, is already going through the cash reserves, purchasing staple items that go into the food hampers, such as canned soups, meat, vegetables and fruit, because there are none on the shelves.

And the teacher’s strike is not helping.

“Leading up to October, we would see Halloween for Hunger, we would see Thanksgiving food drives. But with the teachers being out, we are not going to see those,” explained Griffith.

“So this food drive is going to be that much more important.”

Most wanted for this year’s Thanksgiving food drive are canned fruits and vegetables, including tomatoes, tinned chili, ravioli, stews and baked beans, children’s snacks, including granola bars, individual juice boxes and fruit cups and meal replacement drinks Boost and Ensure.

The B.C. Thanksgiving Food Drive started in 2009 in Burnaby and has since expanded to 50 cities across the province.

Last year, more than 450,000 pounds of food were collected and delivered to community food banks province-wide.

This year’s goal is 600,000 pounds.

If you don’t receive a grocery bag, donations can be brought directly to the Friends In Need Food Bank at 22726 Dewdney Trunk Road, Unit 8. Donations can be dropped off anytime before 1 p.m. Monday to Friday.

On collection day donations, can be dropped off at the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints, 11750 – 207 Street in Maple Ridge.

Donation bins will also be at Save On Foods, Safeway and Extra Foods.

If you received a bag and it is not picked up by 1 p.m. on collection day, call 1-855-74-BCTFD and a volunteer will be dispatched to pick it up.

• To volunteer for the food drive, contact Josh Penner at 1-855-742-2833 or director@bctfooddrive.org.