Nancy Nagy, volunteer coordinator and client services manager with the Friends In Need Food Bank, with pre-packed bags for clients filled with the basic necessities. (Colleen Flanagan-THE NEWS)

Thanksgiving food drive the first this year for Maple Ridge food bank

The Friends In Need Food Bank is concerned about donations after summer food drives cancelled

The Friends In Need Food Bank will be handing out bags in a matter of days for the annual B.C. Thanksgiving Food Drive – the first major food drive of the year benefitting the local charity thanks to the COVID-19 pandemic.

And executive director Mary Robson, along with her team, are trying to formulate other plans to raise much needed money and food for those in need in the community from now until the end of the year.

Robson is worried about money and food supply since the spring and summer food drives were cancelled and there is a good chance, she said, that the CP Holiday Train will be also be cancelled. She hasn’t seen any money, yet, from the virtual CP Holiday Train fundraiser that took place in May.

And, she said, both the Maple Ridge and Pitt Meadows fire departments are still trying to figure out if they will be able to conduct their annual drive, Firefighters for Families, that benefits both the food bank and the Maple Ridge Pitt Meadows Christmas Hamper Society.

READ MORE: Almost 500,000 kgs of perishable food distributed from Maple Ridge food bank facility

Robson is also trying to come up with a strategy for how to serve the community when the cold, wet weather hits the province.

The facility is still in lock-down due to the pandemic, said Robson, so they will only have to ability to serve two clients at a time indoors.

“When you are serving 70 clients in one day, it wouldn’t work,” said Robson.

“We trying to figure out how to streamline things with the service outside, maintaining the pre-packed hampers,” she said.

Robson has hired a new general manager who will be managing the different departments at the food bank.

Evan Seal started in the new role three weeks ago.

READ MORE: Maple Ridge food bank anticipating a flood of registrations

“This is a brand new position,” explained Robson. Much needed, she said.

“Because it’s just too much for me as an executive director to be managing everything and being executive director as well.”

Robson says the food bank is ready, “in case things go sideways with our economy”, with some additional stock, thanks to a couple of small food drives during the summer,

But she is hopeful residents of Maple Ridge and Pitt Meadows will be extra generous for the upcoming food drive.

Province-wide the B.C. Thanksgiving food drive usually generates more than 400,000 pounds of non-perishable food items.

In four days volunteers will leave plastic bags at the front door of homes across Maple Ridge and Pitt Meadows, which will give residents one week to fill up the bags with non-perishable foods before pick-up on the 26th.

The food will then be brought to the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints on 207th Street where it will be weighed and sorted.

The Latter-day Saints Church in Burnaby started the food drive more than a decade ago before it went province wide because of the church’s network, noted Robson.

Anyone wanting to volunteer can contact Jason Nagy of the Latter-day Saints Church at 778-327-8547.

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