Sooke Food Bank secretary Kim Metztger and Andy (The Pizza Man) Carrier stand by freshly-arrived boxes of fruits and veggies.

Sooke Food Bank braces for winter season

Demand for food bank has grown by 20 per cent this year

As winter slowly approaches like a cold wet veil over our heads, needy Sookies once again turn to the Sooke Food Bank, as well as the local community’s big heart, for food and warmth.

But it won’t be easy to both feed and clothe every trembling hand, at least, not without that extra help.

Sooke Food Bank secretary Kim Metztger said even though donations are about the same, its clients list has increased 20 per cent this year.

“A lot of times it’s your average working people who buy that extra bag of groceries and throw it in the bin,” she said. “Now they are our clients, so they’re taking and not donating anymore.”

She suggested this switch effect could be largely due to the added financial stresses of fall and winter living, which usually includes bigger hydro bills, as well as school-related expenses such as food, school supplies and weather-appropriate clothing.

“We have clients who we don’t see during the summer because they can manage as is, but come winter, with the hydro bill or otherwise, it sneaks up on them. Or the rainy season starts and you need to buy your kids boots or a jacket, it all adds up,” Metztger said.

It’s certainly a scenario no one wants to face; sending their child with wet feet because they had to buy groceries, or be dry and warm but starving.

“People forget that kids are going to school, so we try to have little snacks, not only send them off with a sandwich, but with a cookie or little fruit boxes or drinks, grab-and-go kind of things,” Metztger said. “We’re always in need of that, especially during the school year.”

But as the saying goes, where there’s more, the power grows, and thankfully, the Sooke Food Bank is not alone in its ongoing efforts of giving something to those who have nothing.

“There are a lot of children and families who just do parties and little events, then walk in here with $30, $100, which always saves us, because it all adds up,” Metztger said.

Every week, the food bank receives $100 to $300 from Sooke Bottle Depot, and added up to just over $10,000 in donations in the last two years or so. The Harbourside Lions recently pitched in as well with Twoonie Tuesday and the Sooke Legion provides its support by selling pickled eggs.

In addition, Andy (The Pizza Man) Carrier comes by and donates hundreds of pounds of fresh fruit and vegetables, with the biggest load coming on the first Thursday of every month.

Even if there is too much surplus, nothing goes to waste, such as leftover fruits and vegetables that go to CASA, Meals on Wheels, and the seniors centre.

“It all just goes so much farther than the Sooke Food Bank,” noted Metztger.

And it’s not just food either.

Knit-savvy Sookies deliver entire bags knitted hats and mitts every week, especially before the cold weather moves in.

A few hygiene products are pretty hot items as well, such as dish and laundry soap, toilet paper, deodorant and toothbrushes.

This year, the CIBC branch in Sooke also started a food drive in the bank, and offered to donate $1,000 from its corporate office to the Sooke Food Bank.

But, as Metztger said, every little bit helps, especially with upcoming cold weather and the fast-approaching holiday season.

“Thankfully we’ve had these donations, so they’ve really helped tide us through until our Christmas run,” she said.