Food bank filling need for needy in Boundary

The Boundary Food Bank relies on donations from the public to help fill hungry bellies in the Boundary.

Volunteers (From left)Maria Smith

The Christmas season is a time for giving and receiving gifts. But for many people in our community, getting three meals a day for them and their families is a difficult enough task. Fortunately, there is the Boundary Food Bank, which provides food for those in the region who need it.But the number of food bank users has increased while the number of donations remains steady. Food bank manager Larry Dickerson says they should have enough food to cover the shortfall in Grand Forks, but it will be tight. “It’s a constant challenge, but it’s a challenge we take up gladly,” said Dickerson. “When I started here five years ago we were providing food about 11-12 meals per month per person. Were up now to about 16 meals per month per person. That, obviously, doesn’t provide a full diet, but it goes a long way to supplement—most of our clients are very grateful.”One of the struggles for the food bank is that, because they don’t rely on government funding, when number of users increase the funding does not.“If our numbers are going up and our budget is staying the same that means the amount of food per client is going to have to go down at some point,” said Dickerson. “We’re very happy that we’ve been able to have this gradual increase over the five years I’ve been with the food bank. Now it’s starting to be a question of whether we can hang on to what we’ve got.”Dickerson said the community has been very supportive over many years. And the community is broad. The Boundary Food Bank covers a large area from Christina Lake right to Bridesville. Dickerson said they had 60 clients from the West Boundary last year.The food bank is run strictly on volunteers, of which there are 25 at the current time. But they could always use more, says Dickerson (Contact Dan Todd at (250) 442-2800 for more information).The food bank had 1,878 clients in 2013, up 18.3 per cent from the year before. The number of children has increased from 689 to 742 or 7.7 per cent.“We’re looking at about 25 per cent (of users are children),” said Dickerson. “That’s lower than the national average which is something like 35 or 36 per cent.”This past year, the food bank budgeted $25,000 on food for clients. “That budget is not going to get us through the year with the increase were seeing,” said Dickerson. “We’re having to rob every other account. So we’ll be over that.”The food bank receives food from the Canadian Food Bank through the national food chair system. They also receive food donations from fundraisers and from local businesses.“The schools will have Christmas concerts where people are asked to bring a donation to the food bank,” said Dickerson. “Something we’ve done recently is to really encourage local gardeners to bring in their surplus produce.”Dickerson says the food bank does see a definite increase in cash donations during the holiday season, and they are very grateful.The food bank no longer puts together the Christmas hampers for the area, but they do help out with the Gospel Chapel as much as they can.“We used to try and do Christmas hampers ourselves but December is such a busy month as it is, to do that was really a strain on us,” said Dickerson. “We were just delighted when they took it on.” Boundary Food Bank is located at 215 Central Avenue in Grand Forks and is open on Tuesday from 10 a.m. until 3 p.m. Food and/or cash donations can be dropped off on Tuesdays. Food can be left in donation bins at Overwaitea, Buy-Low or Extra Foods.Cheques can be mailed to Box 1052, Grand Forks, B.C. V0H 1H0.Boundary Food Bank statsHunger count – clients servedTotal March 2013% childrenChange from March 2012Change from March 2008Canada833, 09836.4%- 4.5%+23.3%B.C.94,00229.5%- 1.0%+20.4%Boundary Food Bank28425.4%+6.8%+16.3%(Does not apply to meal programs like Whispers of Hope or The Bridge in Midway)Boundary Food Bank clients served YTD (Jan – Oct)20122013ChangeAdults15881878+18.3%Children689742+7.7%Total22772620+15.1%Typical month (mean, eight full months of 2013)Total hampers 139 (77 single, 29 couple, 33 family)Total clients 278 (200 adults, 78 children)Emergency hampers = 4New clients = 6Milk vouchers = 141Volunteer hours = 225 hoursIn July and August, the food bank is only open every other week. Otherwise, it’s  open every week.

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