During the festive season, Summerlanders show their generosity with donations to food drives and seasonal gift drives.
The need at the Summerland Food Bank and Resource Centre is higher at this time of year and the generosity helps to make the season a little easier for individuals, couples and families who are struggling financially.
The generosity is appreciated, but the need for support continues throughout the year.
Over the course of the past year, 272 households, representing 581 people, needed assistance from the food bank.
In past years, staff and volunteers at the food bank have seen an increase in the number of individuals, couples and families who used the service, but this year, some of the recipients have been homeless.
This is a problem which affects an entire community.
Those who received help from the food bank last year represent just five per cent of Summerland’s population, but even this number is far too high.
The presence of a food bank and the ever increasing use of such a facility show a serious problem in our community.
Poverty in Summerland is a complex problem, one without any simple solutions.
The cost of housing is one factor. For those receiving assistance or for those working part-time for low wages, the cost of rent and utilities represents a huge expense. Little is left over for other needs.
The low social assistance rates must also be addressed. The present rates have been unchanged since 2007, even though costs have risen significantly since that time.
Skills training and the availability of jobs are also factors which must be considered.
During this season of giving, donations to the food bank are appreciated, but the need is not just seasonal.
Hunger and poverty are year-round concerns.