Once again the Summerland Food Bank and Resource Centre has distributed holiday food hampers to individuals and families in the community, with 137 hampers filled.
John Bubb, president of the food bank, said the number represents an increase from last year, when 133 hampers were distributed.
The number of food bank recipients throughout the past year has also shown an increase, Bubb said.
So far this year, it has provided assistance to 247 households within the community.
This includes 351 adults and 138 children, for a total of 489 people.
This works out to one in 24 people, based on Summerland’s 2016 population figure of 11,615.
By comparison, last year there were 136 children and 334 adults, for a total of 470 people in 223 homes.
The Summerland Food Bank was formed in March, 1984. By the end of that month, seven requests had been received and seven hampers had been distributed.
Bubb said the food bank had seen a slight decline in numbers in recent years, but this year the trend shifted.
He added that he expects to see the need in the community continue.
“I don’t think it’s solvable at the local level,” he said.
One suggestion is for a guaranteed annual income, in order to ensure all people have enough money to live on.
Bubb said this method has been implemented in Ontario and other regions, but added that it is a challenge to set up a guaranteed annual income program.
“It’s very hard politically to implement something like that,” he said.
Food bank use is not limited to Summerland. It has become a factor in communities across the country. Canada has more than 550 food banks.
According to Food Banks Canada, more than 850,000 people each month use food banks for assistance. More than one-third are children and youths.
Recent information from First Call, a coalition of child and youth advocates, states that 691,710 British Columbians live in poverty. This includes 153,300 children 17 and younger, or 18.3 per cent of children in the province.