South Okanagan food bank and community refrigerator grappling with growing demand

As inflation continues to drive up the cost of living, including food prices, many more people are turning to organizations like food banks for help.

According to Major Paul Trickett, head of the Salvation Army food bank in Penticton, they have nearly doubled the amount of « takeout bags » given out each day.

“I would estimate that we were doing around 75 to 100 a year a year and a half ago. Now we have over 200 bags a day, every day of the week,” Trickett said.

« We also make 20 to 30 hammers a day and provide people with clothes and different things according to their needs. »

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He went on to say that the type of people they serve has changed dramatically.

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« The scary thing that I find right now is the elderly, our big demographic that we haven’t seen in the past, that it’s getting scary to see the number of elderly people coming in for what we let’s call our grab-and-go bags everyday,” Trickett said.

“It is increasing month by month. It’s getting worse and worse as we see food prices go up and the cost of living, gasoline, everything like that, people are exhausted and just can’t feed themselves.

The Salvation Army Food Bank is not the only organization feeling the effects of rising food prices. Food and other items flew from the shelves of the Penticton community refrigerator and pantry.

The space opened in March and has been in high demand ever since.

“The demand is much higher than we anticipated. We have. We’re really struggling to keep this thing filled at all,” said Dave Corbeil, co-founder of Penticton’s Community Fridge and Pantry.

« We restock once or twice a day and we seem to have over 40 people visiting, so that gives you an idea that it’s frankly very, very difficult to keep it stocked. »

Click to play video: 'Barrier-free community fridge and pantry opens in Penticton, BC'

Opening a Barrier-Free Community Refrigerator and Food Pantry in Penticton, BC

The barrier-free space relies on a system of taking what you need and donating what you can, but the duo have enlisted the help of local organizations to fill the void.

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« It’s been incredibly gratifying to see the number of businesses that have jumped on board and the steady stream of people dropping off small or large bags every day, » said the co-founder of Penticton’s Community Fridge and Pantry.

“We will notice a drop because we have been working with the Farmers Market and of course that ends this week. We will therefore have a great need for fresh produce, etc.

Meanwhile, the Salvation Army says donations have remained the same, stable, but the needs far outweigh what is coming.

“I’ve been leading the Salvation Army here for four years now. For my first two years we didn’t even buy food, that’s how much food was coming in,” Trickett said.

« The same amount is coming in and we’re now buying thousands and thousands of dollars worth of food to keep up. »

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Both organizations say food and cash donations are needed now more than ever.

« I would really encourage people to remember that your neighbor might be the person who needs help. It might be a family member you don’t even know. It’s the people around of you coming in for help these days,” Trickett said.

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« So putting money in a kettle, putting food in a trash can really makes a difference in our community. »

One way to donate is to take part in the Salvation Army Kettles campaign, which starts in November. Donations go beyond the holiday season.

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