July will see a big push for food bank support, as it’s being declared food bank awareness month.
The entire month will be focused on the need for donations from the community, with the finale being a spaghetti feed on July 30, being put on for the second year.
Last summer, the Community Harvest Food Bank called on Castlegar for help when they discovered that without a sudden influx of donations they would have to close their doors within two months.
While the community stepped up, co-ordinator Deb McIntosh said the need has only increased.
“There’s a frequency of regular clients using it more often,” she said, adding they’ve seen a rise of about 10 per cent of new clients.
She said the main problem is those on social assistance can’t pay rent, bills and buy food with the money they receive, and those with kids have to make even tougher decisions.
“How do you choose between having snacks for the kids or bathing suits or thongs for summer or perhaps putting them in a summer camp? These are all decisions people have to make all the time,” she said.
In a year, the food bank has upped their drop-in centre days from just Monday to include Wednesday and Friday, which strains them with the addition of two more hot meals a week.
“You’re feeding up to 50 people a day just with the hot meal,” she said.
By providing some clients with necessary items to obtain a job, like work boots, McIntosh said the government’s system isn’t working as they’re not providing a hand up.
“Nelson just put out a report saying housing is getting worse and it’s no better in Castlegar,” she said. “The policies are not there to help people they’re there to hinder people.”
She said the system is “broken and flawed” and isn’t working for anyone.
“Our government should be absolutely ashamed,” she said.
McIntosh said she doesn’t want to take away from any of the other charities, but summertime is when the food bank reserves are at its lowest.
“We couldn’t do it without the awareness of the community,” she said.
Lori Orser of Castlegar’s Sears said with so many people one paycheque away from homelessness in Castlegar, events that raise awareness like the spaghetti feed are important.
There will be food drives held throughout the month at Mountain FM and Safeway.
“Anybody else that wants to donate food can of course take it to Deb at the Station Museum,” Orser said, adding donations can be made at Sears as well.
McIntosh said without the support from the community, media and businesses, “we’d be giving out very little to very few.”
The spaghetti feed will take place at the Station Museum grounds on July 30. A plate of spaghetti will be $5 and a bowl of ice cream with all the fixings will be $2.
For more information, call Orser at 250-365-3331.