The Sooke Food Bank is in a crisis. The shelves hold only enough food for one round of giving and there is no help in sight.
The local food bank is often a lifeline for families in need. They hand out enough food to a family or individual for a couple of days and then they are on their own. The need is always greater than the ability to provide. Two years ago the food bank serviced 5,209 clients over the year, in 2012 they serviced 6,202 (roughly 453 households). Almost half of their clients are children under 17 years of age.
“We are hemorrhaging money,” said Ingrid Johnston, president of the Sooke Food Bank Society. “It costs us $4,500 a month to run and donations have come to a grinding halt.”
Johnston said currently cash donations are about $100 per month and they do not get any government help, from any level including locally. They pay $1,500 for the space they use in the Sooke Community Hall basement plus telephone costs, etc.
“We just had our annual general meeting and we probably can’t service Port Renfrew anymore,” said Elden Smith, a food bank volunteer, “The donations come from Sooke and we have to make a tough choice.”
Johnston said she wanted to remind people that food bank people are hungry after Christmas as well.
“We only have enough in the bank for another month or so,” she said.
The Sooke Food Bank comes to the rescue of the needy three times a month on the first three Thursdays. Clients only get one hamper a month, although the food bank never turns anyone away if the situation is dire. There are other community organizations that also help the hungry. Vital Vittles feeds folks on Fridays at Holy Trinity Anglican Church, the Sooke Food 4 the Soul offers meals at the Knox Presbyterian Church and the crisis centre helps where it can.
Johnston wants to point out that they are not a grocery store, they provide emergency rations that last two or three days only and they try to put nutritious food in the hampers. January to April are the hardest months for any food bank and they are looking to see if there can be a little more corporate support, rather than just the individual donations.
“It’s a challenge,” said Johnston. “Please take care of your own Sooke.”
Donations can be dropped off at either of the two grocery stores in Sooke and many businesses have donation boxes, including the Sooke News Mirror office.
With the demise of the penny, folks who have saved jars of them can bring them into the Sooke News Mirror office and they will be turned over to the Sooke Food Bank.
Cash donations can be mailed to: Sooke Food Bank, Box 983, Sooke, B.C. V9Z 1H7.