Volunteers sort food donations at the Summerland Food Bank and Resource Centre.

Volunteers sort food donations at the Summerland Food Bank and Resource Centre.

Food bank demand increased in July

The Summerland Food Bank and Resource Centre saw an increase in activity in July.

The Summerland Food Bank and Resource Centre saw an increase in activity in July.

A total of 82 households in Summerland received assistance from the food bank during the month, up from 74 households in July, 2015.

“These recipients are residents in our community,” said John Bubb, president of the centre.

He said transient orchard workers are not included in the food bank’s assistance figures.

Instead, agricultural workers will receive emergency food packages, to carry them over until they receive their first paycheques. In July, a total of 12 emergency food packages were given.

Bubb said the increasing need at the food bank is connected in part with social assistance in British Columbia.

“We still haven’t seen an increase in welfare rates,” he said, adding that the last increase came nine years ago, in 2007.

While disability rates have increased slightly, the increase did not match rising costs for expenses.

“The cost of living continues to go up, but the welfare rates remain constant,” he said.

The centre has a budget of roughly 118,000 a year.

Of this amount, $15,000 comes from the municipality, $12,000 from Summerland United Church and $7,000 from the United Way.

Community donations to the food bank account for roughly $50,000 a year.

Last year, the centre applied for $44,000 through the province’s Community Gaming Grant program, but received $26,000.

A total of 52 volunteers work at the centre. Over the 12-month period from Aug. 1, 2016 to July 31, 2016, they recorded a total of 1,114.7 volunteer hours.

 

Statistics show ongoing need

More than 500 Summerlanders received food from the Summerland Food Bank and Resource Centre over the past year.

According to the latest statistics, covering the period from Aug. 1, 2015 to July 31, 2016, a total of 526 people received food assistance.

These include 362 adults and 164 children, representing 239 households.

Of the households receiving food, 86 were first-time users.

Among the households receiving assistance from the food bank, 63 listed employment as their primary source of income, 31 listed social assistance and 65 listed provincial disability support. Another 33 listed no income.