With the holiday season approaching, many Peninsula resident are busy shopping for gifts and planning lavish family feasts, complete with turkey and all the trimmings.
For other residents, the holidays aren’t so sweet.
When cupboards are bare and people are fighting rising costs of groceries, gas and goods, the holiday season can bring more stress than peace.
That’s why it’s more important now than ever to support those in the community who need it most, said Jaye Murray, program manager at Sources Food Bank for its South Surrey and Langley locations.
“We find our numbers go up closer to the holidays every year,” she said.
“We always see more people coming to the food bank in the fall and winter.”
Numbers, costs on the rise
Numbers from the second quarter of 2022 show the Sources South Surrey White Rock food bank currently serves 1,100 area clients, up from approximately 800 in the same time frame last year.
They also provided 250 homeless bags – bags of essential, basic items to help those who find themselves unhoused – compared to 99 bags last year.
“No one wants to be homeless or hungry,” Murray said.
“A lot of people who come to the food bank are working – they just can’t make ends meet. It can be hard to pay for everything – after rent and gas and after all expenses, food can be the last on the list,” she said.
Since the summer, there have been more people from Ukraine who need the food bank’s help as well.
“There’s a lot of Ukrainian refugees… they’re trying to start brand-new.”
Donations from the community are always so appreciated and so helpful in supporting Sources, she said, especially at a time when everyone is experiencing higher bills at the grocery store.
“Our weekly purchase price has gone up by 12 per cent on everything.”
The basics are always needed, Murray said.
– canned protein (tuna, salmon, chicken, ham, chili, stew)
– rice and rolled oats
– peanut butter
– canned fruit and vegetables
– fresh fruit and vegetables
– 100% fruit juice
– meal replacements
– diapers, size 5 and 6
Monetary donations help a great deal – even more so than perishable foot items, as the food bank has excellent relationships with area grocery stores and suppliers, and can get better prices and deals for their clients.
It also means the food bank can purchase what they need, when they need it – usually, Christmas in July campaigns happen because that’s when donations tend to be the lowest and food donations from the previous year often expire, Murray noted.
‘Could be a family member or neighbour’
Because there’s often a stigma or shame associated with for banks, many people don’t share that they’re using Sources’ services.
“You’d be surprised who has to come to the food bank,” Murray said.
“It could be a family member or a neighbour.”
Food Bank volunteer Kelly Thompson, who was helping with the distribution of food with several other volunteers on Tuesday (Nov. 29), agreed.
“You can be one paycheque away from poverty and I think we all recognize that,” she said.
“There but for the grace of God go I.”
After visiting every station at the distribution centre, where clients choose items from every station (i.e. protein, starches, etc), a client named Margerete was browsing from a selection of fresh fruit and produce, including bananas and lettuce, on her way out.
A client for about three years, the food bank helps her provide for her son, she said.
“I have a son who has autism and he lives with a handicap pension. Sometimes, it’s not enough,” said the retiree, who lives on a fixed income herself.
“(The food bank) helps a lot. Sometimes, they have chocolate and other treats – he’s 58, but he still likes chocolate sometimes.”
If they didn’t have the help of the food bank, “we would eat less.”
Donations can be made at the food bank at 2343 156 St., Surrey, from 8:30 a.m. to 4 p.m., Monday through Friday.
Food donations can also be left at local grocery stores.