Staff at the Abbotsford Food Bank were surprised last week when they were informed that a client had attempted to auction items online that had been donated to the food bank and which she received for free.
The incident took place last Thursday, on an online auction site that is operated over Facebook.
The woman’s posting indicated that she had 53 small packages of “blueberry-flavoured dark chocolate” and six bigger bags of “pomegranate dark chocolate” up for bid.
Some people recognized the items as identical to those they had received in food hampers from the Abbotsford Food Bank just before Christmas.
One of these was Troy Grunewald of Abbotsford. He said he needed some help from the food bank when he lost his job right after he and his wife had a baby.
He was grateful to receive a food hamper which contained numerous items, including a large amount of chocolate – the same amount that was pictured in the online auction posting.
Grunewald was dismayed to see the posting.
“I was horrified that someone … was taking advantage of the system by selling items they had got for free from generous community members,” he said.
Grunewald said he and others were banned from the website when they posted comments condemning the woman’s actions.
Dave Murray, manager of the food bank, said the facility was notified on Thursday afternoon about the online posting.
He confirmed that the woman who posted it was a food bank client and the items she was attempting to sell had been handed out before Christmas.
Murray said the donation from Brookside-Hershey Canada was generous and enabled each client to receive a large amount of chocolate as a Christmas treat.
The food bank frowns upon donated food being sold.
“We just don’t condone that at all … We just can’t have that kind of stuff happening.”
Murray suggested that people who receive unwanted items from the food bank either return them or pass them along to someone else who could use them.
Murray said the woman qualified for support after meeting the required criteria, including providing proof of her income.
He said the food bank considered banning her from future support but instead arranged a meeting with her on Friday morning.
Murray said the woman was “mortified” about the incident. She removed the posting from the auction site and returned all the chocolate to the food bank.
Following the meeting, the woman’s boyfriend contacted the Abbotsford News, saying she was remorseful about what had happened.
“It’s an honest mistake, and she feels really bad about it … She apologized to Brookside and the food bank and the community … and it will never happen again,” he said.
He said his girlfriend was not desperate for money, but did not want the chocolates and has used the auction website in the past to sell other items she no longer wanted, such as clothing.