The shelves of the Friends in Need Food Bank stand in sharp contrast to what they looked like only two months ago. Brimming with donations after the Christmas season, the bare shelves and mountains of empty boxes are what stands out most as spring rolls around.
As the food bank’s supply rapidly dwindles, it is about to get a boost thanks to the Loblaw Spring Food Drive.
“Many people make an effort to give food bank donations during the holiday season, but hunger is a persistent, year-round problem,” said Katharine Schmidt, executive director, Food Banks Canada.
In Maple Ridge and Pitt Meadows, the timing couldn’t be better, said Mary Robson, executive director at Friends in Need.
“This program is huge for us,” said Robson. “We support more than 700 households every month and we’re seeing our numbers grow.”
The Loblaw Spring Food Drive is asking Canadians to donate items until April 9 at grocery stores in Maple Ridge and Pitt Meadows to help some of the 1,500 people who rely on the Friends in Need Food Bank every month, 33 per cent of whom are children.
People can also donate cash, which in turn helps the food bank purchase it’s most sought after items, said Robson.
Some of the most-needed items include kids snacks and granola bars, juice boxes and fruit cups, canned fruit and vegetables, canned tomatoes, Boost and Ensure for seniors, canned meat and fish, and any meal in a tin, such as chili, ravioli, stews or baked beans.
Robson said hampers range in size from helping single people to families with as many as nine to feed.
She said the cost of filling those hampers would be between $20,000 and $30,000.
The Friends in Need Food Bank is also encouraging the public to use the #Donate2Items hashtag and include a photo on Twitter to get the word out about the 841,191 Canadians who turn to food banks every month, said Schmidt.
Many Canadian food banks see their donation levels drop as spring rolls around, but the monthly demand for their food remains high throughout the year, she said.
To help feed those in need this spring, customers are being asked to make a donation to their local food bank at Real Canadian Superstore, located at 201 − 19800 Lougheed Hwy. in Pitt Meadows and Extra Foods, located at 22427 Dewdney Trunk Rd. in Maple Ridge.
If every British Columbian donated two items at their local store today, it would meet the traditional demand on food banks until July, said Schmidt.
“During the spring many families continue to grapple with food insecurity at a time when the volume of donations trend towards an annual low,” said Schmidt. “Hunger is a year-round issue so we want to encourage everyone to stop by their local Loblaws or Real Canadian Superstore today to make a contribution.”
Spring Food Drive donation bins are located in store and cash donations are also accepted at checkout.
Food donations go directly to local food banks while cash donations support local food banks and Food Banks B.C.
Since 2009, Loblaw customers donated more than $9.9 million and 10 million pounds of food to food drives across Canada.
This spring Loblaw plans to raise more than $1 million and 500,000 pounds of food by the campaign’s end on April 9.
“Whether it’s putting healthy food on our customers’ plates or in hampers for food bank users, we believe we have a responsibility to help all Canadians live life well,” Peggy Hornell, senior director of community investment for Loblaw Companies Limited.
Since 2008, Loblaw provided $1.5 million in support of the National Food Sharing System.