by Gina Kendrick Food prices have risen 12 per cent since last year yet donations to Powell River Action Centre Food Bank are down 40 per cent. Despite this, the number of families needing help from the food bank continues to increase.
In Powell River an average of 31 per cent of our recipients are children. Thirty per cent of our families are the working poor. They are not on social assistance.
On average, 750 to 900 people use the food bank every month. Compare those figures with 1997 when I first began volunteering at the food bank. Figures were only 360 people a month at that time.
What alarms me the most is the increase in the number of seniors needing help. Eight years ago, only one per cent of our recipients were seniors. Today, six per cent of our recipients are seniors.
Last week a 55-year-old single woman came into the food bank for the very first time. This woman was laid off a year and a half ago from her job. She hasn’t been able to find work since. This woman found it hard to come to the food bank but she had no choice.
The food bank was able to provide her with toiletries, a start-up kit of household items such as dish soap, cooking oil and groceries. That woman left weeping her heart out. She said “I didn’t realize you people could do this.”
Donations have dropped because it is a tough economy. Everything has dropped except the food bank usage.
In past years food donations from community groups, organizations, businesses and schools would keep the food bank going from December until April but that is no longer the case. However, there are groups who still donate regularly such as Powell River United Church, Simply Bronze, Powell River Healthworks, Powell River Therapeutic Riding Association, Dog Gone Grooming, First Credit Union and the Dicken’s Banquet.
If you can help the food bank help others, please call us at 604.485.9166. I can be reached at 604.485.5426, or the volunteer assistant manager is available at 604.483.4393.
Gina Kendrick is volunteer manager of Powell River Action Centre Food Bank.