Need for food bank continues in Kimberley

1,946 people served by Kimberley Helping Hands Food Bank in 2014

The Kimberley Helping Hands Food Bank held their Annual General Meeting on November 25, 2014, with President Stan Salikin reporting to Society members.

“Once again we have heard from our Food Bank Coordinator of the large numbers of clients being served at our Food Bank,” Salikin said. “Totals are 1,946 people in all, including 769 children. Many of the people helped are one time emergency users, while others are recipients of multiple hampers throughout the year. It is significant to note the number of children involved, being close to 37 per cent.”

Food Bank clients come from many walks of life, with many of them working but being unable to make ends meet on what they earn.

52 family units served were employed or under-employed in 2014; 38 family units are on government assistance; 49 family units on pension, including disability pension; 23 family units are on EI or WCB and one family unit in school.

102 people are singles, 43 couples, 11 singles with children and 58 couples with children.

All applicants for assistance are interviewed by trained food bank screeners to determine need and eligibility. Approved clients receive a full size hamper every 60 days, and emergency hampers are given as needed. Crisis situations are handled case by case.

“No one is turned away empty handed,” Salikin said.

The Kimberley Food Bank is very well supported through donations from residents of the city and area.

“Without this generous support from our community we would not be able to meet the needs of our food insecure clientele,” Salikin said. “We thank everyone who contributes food and financial support. Special thank you to all the schools’ students who hold food drives throughout the year. A huge thank you to the individuals who donate food, produce and wild meat, and to all the church members who contribute regularly, over $55,000 worth of food was received this year. A special thank you to the businesses that have donated food over the year — Overwaitea Foods, Mark Creek Market, Shoppers Drug Mart, Kimberley City Bakery and Centex.”

In addition to local donations, the Kimberley Food Bank holds several special fundraisers through the year, the biggest being the E#sat Kootenay Royal LePage Duck Race, which brought in $20,914 last year. The Food Bank garage sale and barbecue brought in $14,893 and the Friends of the Food Bank at Western Lodge brought in $16,000. The Selkirk Secondary fundraiser raised $5,371 and the Meadowbrook fall raffle $4,000. The Investors Comedy Night raised $2700 in food and cash and response to the Christmas letter raised $3500.

Another major fundraiser at $20,000 was the food Bank Bingo, held every Monday night at 6:30 p.m.

Currently the Food Bank is preparing for the Christmas Hamper program. Last year 186 Christmas hampers with a total value of $35,000 were distributed.

“The hampers are impressive and exceptional and most appreciated by our recipients who express  their sincere thanks for the thoughtfulness and generosity of the Food Bank and community who support this program,” Salikin  said. “On behalf of the board of directors I would like to thank Heather Smith and all the hundreds of volunteers for undertaking this huge endeavour and making it happen is such a professional, smooth-running manner.”

In conclusion, Salikin said that the Kimberley Food Bank has now just about completed 30 years of service and support to a large number of people in the area who find themselves affected by food insecurity. The Food Bank was founded in 1985.

“The Food Bank continues to help those in the most need in this regard. With the tremendous support and contributions from our communities we hope to be able to continue this service as long as the need exists. The Food Bank is an important safety net for many people in desperate need and for this reason our goal is to continue to make a difference in people’s lives by providing the necessities of life — food — to the needy. We do sincerely hope that one day the need for food banks will diminish and we would be able to close our doors forever, but until that day we will be there for our fellow citizens.”