The Boundary Community Food Bank has a new board and president, as confirmed at the organization’s annual general meeting last month.
Mike Wakelin takes over as president from longtime volunteer Everett Baker, who stepped down from the board this fall.
“I am grateful for the opportunity to represent this organization,” Wakelin said. “I am excited about what is to come in the future [like] the produce reclaim program and soup lunches, starting January 2020.”
Wakelin and the new board face a challenge in scaling up capacity to meet the surge in demand that the food bank has seen over the past year.
“The numbers are really scary this year,” said inventory coordinator Lynda Hynes.
According to Hynes, the organization is serving one and a half times as many people as it did in 2018. Last year, the food bank helped feed an average of 297 people per month. Since Jan. 1, 2019, that average has grown to represent 449 individuals per month.
Hynes said that a variety of people are using the food bank today – people with disabilities, single parents, seniors, the working poor, flood victims and people just struggling to make ends meet.
To grow to meet the demand, Hynes has arranged to receive daily donations from Save-on-Foods of some near-end date foods, and expects to begin receiving produce from the store soon too – the produce reclaim program mentioned by Wakelin.
Even with such influxes though, donations from the public are vital to keep the shelves stocked at the Donaldson Drive location, Hynes said. One big surge of donated food came earlier this month, when students from Hutton Elementary donated more than 250 kilograms of food collected during a Halloween trick-or-treat food drive.
Hynes said that over the winter, 90 per cent of the food bank’s operating funds come from community, and she is encouraging people to donate through the food bank’s website, boundarycommunityfoodbank.ca, at the check-outs at Grand Forks grocery stores or through cheques mailed to the Boundary Community Food Bank at 7816A Donaldson Dr.