Const. Matthew Black, left, helps 3-year-old Ella Popowich with a bag of food donations she and grandma Kathy Ervin brought along to the RCMP’s Stuff the Cruiser event Dec. 8. Emelie Peacock/Hope Standard

Hope Food Bank shelves and coffers lower than usual this holiday season

Community events like the RCMP’s Stuff the Cruiser working on filling those gaps

Donations to the Hope Food Bank are down this year and coordinator Dianne MacDonnell isn’t quite sure what the cause is.

“We’re down this year…food-wise and financially,” she told The Hope Standard at the annual RCMP Stuff the Cruiser event Dec. 8 at Save-On-Foods.“I’m wondering if a part of it is the postal strike because we get a lot of cheques mailed in. Other than that, I don’t really know why.”

While donations might be down, the need is still great.

“There’s a lot of poverty in Hope. Kids going without breakfast and things like that,” MacDonnell said.

“The price of groceries…is sky high and people living on a very limited income, it’s difficult for them. And then you’ve got people as well with animals and they’d rather feed their animals than feed themselves. We have a lot of that as well.”

Events like Saturday’s will go far to fill the need which exists year-round but is felt acutely during the holidays.

“It’s been a great event for a number of years, one that we welcome and enjoy. Especially this time of year when there are a number of families that are a little less fortunate than others,” said Hope RCMP Staff Sgt. Karol Rehdner Saturday. “I’m always at a loss for words for how generous the people of Hope are towards this event.”

Both Rehdner and MacDonnell said there are many items people don’t think about when donating to the food bank. These include diapers, sanitary items for women, toilet paper and money.

A cheque or a cash donation allows the food bank to purchase what they might be running low on, as well as give out grocery gift cards for example during the upcoming Holly Days event run by Hope Community Services.

Foods people normally wouldn’t think to donate are also in high demand, including yogurt, milk, cheese, eggs and fresh produce. Frozen vegetables are also preferred to canned ones.

Success with grant applications has allowed the food bank to store these perishable donations.

“We’ve been able to buy upright freezers, refrigerators and chest freezers so that has really helped us along,” MacDonnell said.

A food recovery program has also been started, with Save-On-Foods on board so far, which diverts food destined for the landfill.

“There are bins brought here on a daily basis and food is picked up on a daily basis. They’ve been giving us bread, their bakery bread, for a long long time now. But just recently they’ve started with produce,” she said.

MacDonnell said she is working on getting Buy-Low-Foods on board with the food recovery program. For the time being, the store continues to donate a lot of expired goods which are still safe to consume.

This is all part of a broader shift for the food bank, towards giving out healthier foods.

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