Boundary Community Food Bank President Mike Wakelin thanked Grand Forks’ first-responders and city employees who donated food last week. Photo: Laurie Tritschler

Boundary Community Food Bank President Mike Wakelin thanked Grand Forks’ first-responders and city employees who donated food last week. Photo: Laurie Tritschler

Boundary Food Bank sees recent uptick in clients after CERB runs out

President Mike Wakelin said demand plummeted while the benefit was available to working Canadians

More people are relying on assistance from the Boundary Community Food Bank now that the COVID-19 pandemic is worsening, President Mike Wakelin told The Gazette.

The food bank at 7816 Donaldson Dr. provides about a week’s worth of groceries to around 540 people in a typical month, according to Wakelin. That normally translates to around 350 monthly hampers, he explained, because about one-third of the food bank’s clients are children in families.

READ MORE: Grand Forks first-responders, union local come through for Boundary Food Bank

Wakelin said food bank visits fell across the board as soon as clients had access to the federal government’s Canada Emergency Response Benefit, or CERB. The CERB provided was available to working Canadians between March 15 and Oct. 3, according to the Government of Canada’s website.

“Before COVID-19 hit, we had a record-breaking day of 92 hampers in one day, including families, couples and singles. As soon as COVID hit, our numbers went way down to 20 to 35 a week,” he told The Gazette Friday, Nov. 27.

“Most clients were receiving government money at the time, so they didn’t have the need to be coming here all the time,” continued.

Apart from children, many of the food bank’s clients are what Wakelin called “working poor.”

“Whether they’re singles or couples or families, they can maybe afford the roof over their heads plus their bills. But they can’t also afford a full month of food. So, we usually supply them with five to seven days of food and then, they’re on their own,” he said.

Wakelin said the food bank has recently seen an uptick in clients.

“We can only do so much for them,” he said, adding that people are always grateful for the hampers they receive.

“You can see it in their eyes when they say, ‘Thank you. Without this, I don’t know what I would’ve done.’”

“It does make you want to tear up.”

Wakelin has served as food bank president for 14 months.

“My original thought for getting involved was that I wanted to help our community members who needed helping,” he said.

“I’ve found that sharing is the best way to communicate a good purpose,” he said.


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