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As the economy sways, Greater Victoria’s food banks are feeling the pinch

Demand is up and donations are down, say officials

Food banks throughout the region are feeling the pinch on both ends.

The number of people signing up for assistance with the Sooke Food Bank has increased from one or two a month to six to 10 a week compared to when she started with the organization 10 years ago, said Kim Metzger, Sooke Food Bank president.

“That’s a very huge increase,” she said.

The number of people making donations has dipped dramatically as well.

“People who normally donate $100 a year a year are now coming in for assistance, ” Metzger said. “That doubles the impact.”

The problem is exacerbated even more by the fact that the cost of food continues to rise.

“We’re so blessed in Sooke to be able to have Western Foods and Village Food Markets,” she said. “They have been fantastic, but their costs have also increased.”

Another issue that adds to the list of issues impacting the Sooke Food Bank is a lack of adequate space.

Moving forward, the Sooke Community Hall, which serves many other purposes, including in times of emergency, no longer has the space required by the food bank.

“As the community grows, the food bank needs more space,” Metzger said.

Metzger said the best way to assist is through cash donations because $3 worth of food can be purchased with every dollar donated to the food bank.

“We’re only able to continue the work we do because we live in such a caring, giving community,” she added.

The Sooke Food Bank at 2037 Shields Rd. is open for assistance and donations between 9:30 a.m. and 2:30 p.m. on the first three Thursdays of the month.

The situation is similar at the Goldstream Food Bank in Langford, which serves the West Shore.

“The demand has grown by 50 per cent and donations are down significantly,” said Goldstream Food Bank vice-president Walter Dubeau.

“Our cash donations are down by 30 per cent,” he said.

“We’re hearing the same situations for all food banks throughout the province. These are very challenging times. One takeaway is that although the community is normally very generous, what we see is indicative of what’s happening with the economy. When people have a hard time paying rent or putting gas in the car, it’s harder to make donations.”

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About the Author: Rick Stiebel

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