Al and Jane Beddows show off the Sooke Food Bank’s new van before heading out to Port Renfrew to hand out food hampers. (Dawn Gibson/Sooke News Mirror)

Al and Jane Beddows show off the Sooke Food Bank’s new van before heading out to Port Renfrew to hand out food hampers. (Dawn Gibson/Sooke News Mirror)

Sooke Food Bank hits the open road

Food bank buys new van after grant from Food Bank B.C.

The Sooke Food Bank has some fancy new wheels.

After receiving a $69,000 grant from Food Bank B.C., the Sooke Food Bank was able to buy a van in December.

The multi-purpose van is used for the monthly Port Renfrew and Pacheedaht run, as well as to pick up food shipments and donations.

“This van really is a God sent gift,” said Kim Metzger, president of the Sooke Food Bank. “Before, our volunteers were just using their own vehicles, so we weren’t able to carry or store near as much food.”

The van is insulated to act as a cooler, so it can keep food frozen such as turkeys at Christmas time.

Al and Jane Beddows, volunteers who do the monthly Port Renfrew and Pacheedaht run, say the van makes things a great deal easier for them.

“We were using our own vehicle and weren’t able to take much food out with us, so this van is absolutely amazing,” said Jane Beddows.

The food bank helps about 3o families from the Pacheedaht reserve and Port Renfrew, but Beddows said the number continues to grow.

“We saw there was a need out there, and no one was helping them. People can’t drive all the way into Sooke, or they’d be paying almost as much in gas as they would for a hamper, so it is necessary we cover those areas,” said Beddows.

“We were quite prepared to just drive to Renfrew ourselves and spend our own money, but now this van makes things so much more convenient.”

The van travels to the Renfrew area on the third Thursday of every month, but is utilized every day.

“We are able to pick up a lot more donations than we ever could before, especially from companies who have excess products they want to donate,” said Metzger.

Metzger noted last week they were able to take a bunch of “luxury items” such as sugar, pickles, toilet paper and hygiene products to Port Renfrew, that they would not have been able to take otherwise.

“The van is absolutely wonderful, but we couldn’t do any of this without all of our amazing volunteers,” she said.

The food bank is always looking for donations and volunteers. For more information on the Sooke Food Bank Society and news on upcoming events, please go online to sookeregionvolunteers.org.