The Salvation Army is asking Terrace city council for support in becoming the primary food bank here, instead of the Terrace Churches Food Bank which currently holds that designation.
It would mean the Salvation Army and not the Terrace Churches Food Bank would receive cash donations and care packages from Safeway, proceeds from food bank drives, coupons to distribute and surplus shipments of food from large companies through the provincial Food Banks BC umbrella organization.
The request from The Salvation Army arises from concern about the churches food bank summer closure and the amount of hours each month it is open otherwise.
“We believe that the need for food banks is just as great, if not greater, during the summer months when children are not in school,” read a letter from Salvation Army Captains Jim and Deb VanderHeyden which was discussed at last night’s council meeting.
The Terrace Churches Food Bank is open two hours a day for four days in a row each month, closing July, August and September.
The letter also questioned the Terrace Churches Food Bank position that a soup kitchen at the All Nations Centre and the availability of community gardens provide sufficient support during the summer months.
The Salvation Army proposal would have it operate the food bank year round under a community board which would include churches food bank representatives.
Council was also given a letter from John Wiebenga, president of the Terrace Churches Food Bank, to the Salvation Army, where he responds to the concerns.
In that letter, Wiebenga writes that the board, volunteers and past executives agreed that there is not the same demand for the food bank during the summer months and the programs that are in place work for this community.
The churches food bank also offered to support the Salvation Army in expanding its own food bank during the summer by passing along food it does receive from Food Banks BC.
In discussion, councillor James Cordeiro said the issue is something that should be decided by Food Banks BC, not city council.
“I don’t think it’s our place to be the arbiter between two social service agencies,” he said.
“They are the funders, they are the ones managing it, so if they see a deficiency, then they should decide about it.”
Councillor Brian Downie said that the Terrace Churches Food Bank has a long history of service to the community, and it would be good to hear its side.
“We don’t want to be the arbiter, but maybe we can help bring the parties together,” he said.
Councillor Sean Bujtas agreed.
Cordeiro said it is fine if council wants to hear the other side, but he added “I’m not sure that council should be the platform for two organizations to hear the disputes between each other.”
Councillor Lynne Christiansen agreed.
“Maybe it isn’t our place to write a letter, but when we’ve heard one side of it, I think we should hear the other side of it,” she said.
Council unanimously agreed to request an appearance by the Terrace Churches Food Bank at a later council meeting.