The food bank serving the Saanich Peninsula received $15,000 in monetary donations during the past seven days, according to its executive director, who predicts that the facility will see an increase of 30 per cent in clients, as the economic effects of COVID-19 reverberate
“It’s has been amazing,” said Bev Elder, executive director of the Saanich Peninsula Lions Food Bank. “We get a lot of people phoning in credit card donations because they don’t want to come [down to the food bank on Sidney’s Fifth Street]. A lot of people are doing the online donation.” Ultimately, it does not matter, how people donate, she said.
One of the largest and likely most unusual donations happened Saturday from North Saanich’s Rest Haven Adventist Church, when its church elder, Rick Wiegel lowered a $3,000 cheque into the hands of Elder with the help of a fishing rod.
“That was definitely social distancing at its best,” said Elder, laughing. “We thought that was really, really great,” she said. For the record, the hook did not snag Elder’s fingers.
The Peninsula Tennis Club followed this donation with a donation of $2,600 Monday.
Alan Osborne, president of the tennis club, said the money represents the refund the club was due because its rented facilities at Panorama Recreation Centre were not available because of COVID-19.
Aware of the struggles faced by food banks everywhere, Osborne said the club polled the membership and 99 per cent of members opted to donate their share.
Food banks, including Saanich Peninsula Lions Food Bank, have seen a drop in donations for several reasons including social distancing just as demand has been rising in the wake of COVID-19’s economic effects.
This development has forced food banks to tap into cash reserves to compensate and food banks have been asking the public for monetary donations.
Groups donating have echoed this request and both Rest Haven Adventist Church and the Peninsula Tennis Club have issued challenges to other organizations in making donations to help avoid what the church called a ‘looming crisis.’
Elder confirmed the food bank currently needs a monthly minimum amount of $10,000 for food purchases, a number of likely to rise.
“We definitely think we are going to have an influx of new clients … in April,” she said. With paycheques stopping or running out in early April and Employment Insurance not yet coming in, many locals will turn to assistance, she added. “We are probably anticipating 30 per cent more in clients,” she said. The facility serves about 1,000 people per month.
Accordingly, Elder anticipates the food bank will be purchasing a lot more food to meet growing demand.
The food bank has also received donations of items that had previously dried up, including fresh fruit, vegetables and dairy products that would have otherwise gone to waste from local restaurants including Mary’s Bleue Moon Cafe (Sidney), The Five and Dime Diner (Sidney) and Adriana’s (Central Saanich) forced to close by COVID-19.
“Anything fresh is very expensive right now,” she said. “From what I understand, a lot of grocery stores are running out of those items. It’s saving people a lot of money and it’s healthier food for people.”
These donations, coupled with donations from Thrifty Foods, have allowed the food bank to resume distribution of fresh fruits and vegetables twice a week (Tuesdays, Thursdays) after having cancelled the service earlier.
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