Maple Ridge food bank feeling more flush this year

  • Feb. 4, 2011 12:00 p.m.

If it gets the same turnout this year as last for the Chinese New Year’s fundraising dinner, the Friends in Need Food Bank will double its money – giving it about $8,000 to stuff into its bank account to help feed the hungry.

This year, only food bank volunteers will be hosting the Feb. 12 event while last year the profits had to be split with the Lions who also provided volunteers.

“If we could do that again, that would actually help out,” said food bank executive-director Joanne Olson.

For $25, diners can enjoy a Chinese buffet dinner from Enjoy Gardens, as well as a silent and live auction, MC’d by Maple Ridge district’s public affairs spokesman Fred Armstrong.

They also can have their name written in Chinese calligraphy, see live entertainment and view Chinese pottery. Doors open at 6 p.m. at the Pitt Meadows Heritage Hall at 12460 Harris Rd.

“For $25, it’s a nice evening out,” said Olson.

This year is showing improvement from last year in food bank fortunes. Instead of the usual cry of empty shelves, “things are going pretty good,” said Olson.

“Our shelves are full. We did better than last year.”

Usually, food donations raised during Christmas can tide the food bank over until June. That didn’t happen last year when the effects of the recession were still evident and the shelves were bare by March.

This year is looking a bit better. “We’re hoping that we’re built up to making it to June, at least to May,” said Olson.

Currently, the food bank is dishing out about 650 hampers each month.

Olson said in late 2010 that food bank use is up 15 per cent more from the previous year, which was preceded by a 30-per-cent increase in 2009.

But this year, the economic climate seems a bit brighter.

“I think things are starting to change in the community. People’s attitudes are starting to cheer up a bit.”

The food bank’s reserves were bolstered by a record amount of donations from CP Rail’s Holiday Train. More than $21,000 in cash donations were raised from last December’s event.