The Summerland Food Bank distributed 143 Christmas hampers this year, up significantly from last year’s number.
Tara Hollas, resource coordinator of the Summerland Food Bank and Resource Centre said a total of 300 people — 201 adults and 99 children — benefitted from the seasonal hampers.
The demand was greater than last year, said John Bubb, president of the food bank.
A year ago, 120 hampers were distributed.
“It’s not really surprising,” Bubb said of the increased need. “The cost of living continues to go up, but wages don’t go up.”
Those receiving disability payments and those working for low wages make up the largest numbers of food bank recipients, he said.
“We need an adjustment to the welfare and disability rates,” he said “These rates are woefully inadequate for today’s costs.”
While the demand has increased, the community gave generously to support the food bank.
Bubb said food donations were lower than last year, but cash donations were significantly higher.
Cash donations are appreciated since they allow the food bank more flexibility in acquiring the food items needed.
“This community is amazing,” he said. “We’re constantly humbled by the response of the community to what we’re doing.”
In addition to food bank donations, Summerlanders gave generously to the Toys and Toonies for Tots and Teens gift drive.
Kathy Janzen, who coordinates the gift distribution along with Wendy Schindel and Maxine Millis, said gifts were distributed to 103 children in 49 families.
“People are very generous here,” she said. “we’re able to give the children a good supply of toys. It’s really quite heartwarming.”
Over the past two months, the community has had numerous initiatives to support the food bank and the seasonal gift drive.
The food bank provided assistance to 239 households, representing 557 people, between Nov. 1, 2013 and Oct. 31, 2014.