Food bank smashes last year’s record

THE FOOD bank set another longtime record with the number of clients coming through its doors this month,

  • Dec. 21, 2011 6:00 p.m.

THE FOOD bank set another longtime record with the number of clients coming through its doors this month, topping one of its two records from December 2010.

There were 776 bags of food handed out, which reached a new record number in the most bags

given out in one month in the last 11 years.

Volunteers helped 504 people, which wasn’t quite enough to smash last year’s record of 523.

“Yes we were expecting a big volume, but not quite that big,” said Terrace Churches Food Bank treasurer Dennis Brewer, adding volunteers had planned on giving out about 750 bags.

“We made some substitutions but everyone got a full bag. We had a good supply of extras like crackers, cookies and cereal so [we] were pretty well fixed.”

The number of families were down as this month saw more larger families than singles and couples,  said Brewer. There were quite a few new faces, he added.

“Fortunately, due to the extreme generosity of the community, we had a good supply of food and were able to accommodate everyone,” said Brewer. “Once again, we were able to supply a frozen chicken to each family and even stuffing or cranberries to most [families.]”

One day, the food bank “was hopping” with music by Debbie Toovey on her keyboard, serenading everyone until the last bag of food was given out, he added.

The number of bags has increased two years in a row: 678 bags were handed out in December 2009, 773 bags in December 2010 and 776 this month.

December 2009 was the first year for a one-week December opening for the food bank and not everyone knew about it so the past two Decembers’ increases were expected, said Brewer.

“Previous to this (2009), we did not open in December as the Salvation Army did its hamper program,” he said. “When it went from a food hamper to a gift card system, we found there was a demand for us to open and so we were able to respond thanks to the generosity of the community.

“This has resulted in a good supplement to the Salvation Army as we can supply fresh produce and other items people could not afford by relying only on the gift cards.

“This has been a good mix, with us both operating in December as our clients get a little extra.”

Volunteers expect January to be busy so they’re planning for it, he added. The shelves are bare so the food bank is looking to fill them up again for its January opening, said Brewer.

“We pretty well need everything except perhaps cereal as we have a good stock of that coming in,” he said, adding that jam and peanut butter are always welcome items.

Brewer also thanked the volunteers for the hours they donate and everyone who contributed to the food bank, financially and with food items.

“We wish all of them as well as our many clients a very Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year,” he said.

The first food bank of the new year will be open Jan. 16 to 19.