A recent robbery has pushed the Hope Food Bank to critically low levels.
The thieves took off with about $500 worth in food, dealing another setback to an already struggling organization. All their pasta sauce and noodles were stolen, as well as cases of macaroni and cheese, soup and children's fruit snacks.
"It came at the worst time," said Kim Paolini, volunteer prevention program coordinator at Hope Community Services. "They took items we really needed to hand out and our little food bank does not have the funds to replace it."
The local organization is not provincially funded, and runs solely on donations and fundraising efforts.
While contributions have increased slightly over the last year, its been difficult to meet the steady demand with rising food costs.
In 2010, the organization raised $28,000, up from $25,000 in 2009. The majority of donations were collected between November and January.
"We generally get enough donations to pay for the Christmas hampers and to keep the food bank running until June," said Paolini. "The need continues all year long. It never goes away."
The food bank currently supports 269 people in Hope every month and another 109 people in Boston Bar. Of that, 71 are children, 24 are seniors and 105 are aboriginal. In addition, the number of Christmas hampers handed out last year increased 39 per cent from the year before.
"The food bank usage is up and it's not just necessarily single people who are on drugs or on welfare," said Paolini. "Anybody can end up using the food bank."
Clients come from every social and economic background, including working families, seniors and individuals with disabilities. While other communities in the region have seen an increase in seniors, Paolini said it's not a trend mirrored in Hope. The organization doesn't have an income screening process, but does require proof of residence in the area.
The food bank currently has an abundance of soup on its shelves, but little of anything else. They're specifically in need of spaghetti and spaghetti sauce, tuna, and canned fruits and vegetables.
"Anything people want to give we'll take," said Paolini. "If people donate money we can always double that amount at the grocery store. We always get a better deal because we can buy in bulk."
A lack of funding forced the food bank to close its doors nine years ago. Paolini hopes to avoid a similar situation this summer. While the food bank isn't something most people think about in July, Paolini admits the community has stepped up when needed.
"Pretty much the town of Hope has kept it going since then," she added. "For such a small town, people really help the food bank."
The food bank is open every Wednesday at Northwest Harvest Church on Third Avenue. All donations can be dropped off at Hope Community Services during office hours.
For more information, call 604-869-2466.
Hope Food Bank by the numbers:
Total Hope clients: 269
Total Boston Bar clients: 75