While food banks are traditionally thought of providing food to those in need, the importance of cash donations are also extremely valuable.
Without those donations, it would be nearly impossible for food banks to provide clients with healthy food options, provide fresh milk, fruit and vegetables for food hampers, or cover important operating costs such as heating, allow for purchase in bulk or stock up on most-needed or shortfall items, gas for delivery trucks and food-sharing and food recovery programs.
The school of thought among food bank advocates is a few thousand dollars spent on these efforts can equate to a few million dollars worth of food for families.
But a 2015 survey done by Loblaw Companies Limited showed that only 24 per cent of Canadians realize donated money actually goes towards buying fresh food.
Lenetta Parry, executive director of the Central Okanagan Community Food Bank, said fundraising is a big component of the Christmas season push for support.
“Every dollar donated to us can provide $3 of food and give us the ability to purchase items we know we need for food hampers,” Parry said.
Related: Helping those in need at Christmas
For the Christmas season, the food bank is preparing 1,800 food hampers along with collecting more than one thousand toys for kids.
Cash donations help make that happen now and carry the food bank forward well into next year.
Facing the realities of Kelowna’s high cost of living, Parry says food bank clients today can’t be stereotyped as the homeless or living social assistance.
“We find the food bank helping working poor families, couples with kids working at two or three jobs trying to make ends meet and struggling to do so,” Parry said.
Pastor Darryl Burry, with the Salvation Army Kelowna Community Church, agrees with how the face of need is changing in the community.
Related: Christmas Kettle campaign
He says the Salvation Army’s goal of raising $800,000 by Dec. 23 through the Kettle campaign, which kicked off last Thursday, and other initiatives, is a reflection of that changing narrative.
“Every year the cost of everything to do with our personal homes goes up. Hydro goes up, the food bill goes up, placing ever increasing demands on what people can afford,” Burry said.
“It’s not just the homeless or people facing eviction we reach out to help, it is working parents where both have full-time jobs, seniors living on limited incomes.
“People are facing hard choices about paying their mortgage or having to put food on the table.”
Like the food bank, Burry says cash donations collected during the Christmas season support the Salvation Army programs throughout the next fiscal year.
“Those cash donations allowus to provide food, clothing or household items in emergency situations, but we also look at the holistic view of a person who may be stuck in poverty cycle that has carried on for generations of a family and how best somone can break out of that cycle,” Burry said.
To give a donation to the Central Okanagan Community Food Bank, call 250-763-7161. The registration deadline to receive a Christmas hamper is Dec. 1.
For more information about donating to the Salvation Army Christmas campaign, email firstname.lastname@example.org or call 250-860-2329.
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