The head of the Saanich Peninsula Lions Food Bank says donations of $1,000 from each of the associations representing volunteer firefighters in Central Saanich and North Saanich will make a difference.
“The $2,000 we can change it into about $6,000 worth of food,” said Bev Elder, executive director. “Right now, we are definitely low on certain items. We are definitely low on small [containers of] peanut butter, Hamburger Helper, things like that — anything that stretches a meal,” she said.
Elder also welcomes physical donations of items. “We definitely need personal hygiene items, which are always in big demand,” she said. “There is not a whole lot we would say no to right now.”
Elder made these comments after Stacey Lee of the Central Saanich Volunteer Firefighters Association and Dave Spencer of the North Saanich Volunteer Firefighters Association each presented her with a cheque for $1,000.
Lee said his association decided to donate the money out of an internal fund following a virtual meeting. “And the members just said, ‘Let’s give some money to the food bank,’” he said.
Central Saanich then matched the donation.
“I presented it to the membership and they were all in favour of it,” said Spencer.
Beyond the money, the two associations hope that their respective donations will shine some light on the food bank and encourage donations of physical items.“People know it is hard times, but it never hurts to throw it out there and remind people,” said Lee.
When the COVID-19 pandemic started, many feared a spike in the usage of food banks as the economic effects of the shut-down unfolded — predictions that turned out to be accurate.
Tyson Elder, operations manager for the food bank, said weekly use rose by 20 per cent on average. Tyson said he registers new customers every day, with many telling him that they had lost their jobs. “They just can’t make ends meet,” he said.
“Some of our regular clients are staying home because of this, but I like said, we have new clients filling those spots,” added Bev Elder.
With a lot of seniors staying home to avoid any unnecessary contact, the food bank has also changed its procedures to allow family members and trusted friends to pick up items for them, she said.
The food bank has also seen an influx of the homeless, with some coming from elsewhere in the region, added Tyson.
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