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More than 1,000 clients accessing South Surrey food bank each week

Numbers echoed at Langley location, a 30-35% increase since September
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Sources Food Bank in South Surrey is currently serving around more than 1,000 clients every week – up from about 750 per week in September. Food and cash donations have been down this year as well. (Unsplash photo)

The holiday season isn’t always about twinkling lights, festive get-togethers, on-trend gifts, or favourite Christmas movies.

For many, the focus is on keeping a roof overhead or having food available for their next meal – and that has been more trying than ever for several Semiahmoo Peninsula residents this year.

Sources Community Resources Society executive director of community planning Corina Carroll said the South Surrey food bank is seeing about a 30 to 35 per cent increase in use right now, which is echoed at Sources’ Langley food bank.

“There’s been significant increases – even since September – we’ve gone from about 750 per week to over 1,000 people accessing the food bank,” she said, noting that number is per location.

“There’s over 3,000 registered right now (for both locations). And we’re seeing a growth in employed people and families accessing the food bank.”

While there’s always been about a 20 per cent senior population that accesses the food bank, workers and volunteers are hearing they’re struggling more than usual, this year, said Carroll.

“The food banks provide a two-day supplement – that’s generally what it’s intended for – but we are seeing and hearing now that people are trying to make that last longer because they’re short on resources,” she said, adding that some may be stretching the food to last longer than is nutritionally advisable.

Sources also strives to provide the healthiest food options to those who access the food bank, Carroll added, as a lack of proper nutrition can lead to other health complications, and “we want to avoid that.”

READ ALSO: $6K raised for food bank at South Surrey shredding event

The majority of those who access the food bank are between the ages of 29 to 45, many being working families.

“We’re hearing more people say they’re trying to get through… I think they just can’t sustain… we’re at this crisis point. We came out of the pandemic, people are still recovering, I think, even mental health-wise from the pandemic, then we’ve got all these other issues at play, so people are trying their best to make things work and they just can’t sustain it, and they need these pockets of relief.”

Food donations to the food bank have been significantly down this year and while, historically, November and December are the food bank’s biggest months for financial donations, people have been giving less food in the bins provided at local grocery stores and other businesses in White Rock and South Surrey.

“For our Thanksgiving food drive, the results were a bit lower than expected because times are tough for everybody… if normally, they had a little bit to give, they might not have that now.”

But so many people still volunteer their time and give, or plan to give, Carroll said, citing a recent report that showed Canadians are willing to cut back on gifts but still maintain their charitable giving.

White Rock Rotary and Amica have helped Sources with hampers for women accessing the organization’s programs and seniors in the community as well, she noted.

Carroll hopes the community continues to rally around those in need.

“We cannot normalize hunger in this country, in this region, in this community… we need to make sure we don’t accept the fact we have our neighbours going hungry.”

In addition to providing the basic need of food, she feels there’s more to giving, especially at this time of year.

“The other thing I think that matters is that people feel like there’s people out there who care – that people are giving with no expectation of getting something in return,” said Carroll. “People who are facing adversity, people who are struggling right now, they need to know that there are people willing to give with no strings attached.”

If people don’t have money or food to donate, they can still help, she emphasized, such as giving a coat that doesn’t get worn very often.

“We’re always looking for warm clothing – gently used – it’s not always about giving money,” she said.

“There’s also volunteering. We can always use volunteers – if people don’t have money, they might have time.”

Carroll said she encourages people to have conversations about food security and homelessness, to be more aware and educated about what’s happening in their own community.

“People are, right now, just trying to survive. Ideally we want to get people thriving,” she said. “I think we all want to see our communities thriving and communities are made up of individuals, so if individuals are not thriving, then a community isn’t.”

To donate, visit the sources website at sourcesbc.ca, or people can also purchase special Rotary Save-On-Foods gift cards, where up to 22 per cent of the dollar value of the cards will go back to the food bank as a way to support food security in the community.



Tricia Weel

About the Author: Tricia Weel

I’m a lifelong writer, and worked as a journalist in community newspapers for more than a decade, from White Rock to Parksville and Qualicum Beach, to Abbotsford and Surrey, from 2001-2012
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