The Abbotsford Community Services Food Bank announced this week that it has reached perhaps the biggest crisis in its history, with supplies of donated food quickly diminishing.
Manager Dave Murray said although it is not unusual for the facility to have to use some of its $980,000 budget to purchase needed items during slow donation periods – such as the summer – this is the first time in his 16 years there that he has had to spend so much.
Murray recently purchased $20,000 worth of essentials such as rice, pasta and beans, and he expects to spend that much in another couple of weeks. Typically, the food bank doesn’t spend more than $5,000 to get through slow periods.
Many people are having difficulty keeping up with cost-of-living increases that often outpace any hikes in their income. This means they have less and less to give.
It also means there is higher demand for social service support, including assistance from food banks. The Abbotsford Food Bank, for example, has seen about a 10 per cent hike in the number of clients it is now serving – around 4,000 each month – compared to a year ago.
Other agencies have experienced increasingly similar challenges, meaning there is more demand from schools, business and individuals to give back. But they only have so much to go around, and they must be selective in the number of groups they support and how much they contribute – the whole “smaller piece of the pie” scenario.
It might sound cliched, but it only takes a little to make a difference. Next time you’re out grocery shopping, add a bag of rice or a few cans of soup to your cart.
Drop the items in the donation box at the front of the store as you leave. It doesn’t get more convenient than that, and leaves more money for the food bank to provide other important services.
If that doesn’t sway you and perhaps you believe that people are responsible for their own circumstances, think about this: About 40 per cent of the clients served each month by the Abbotsford Food Bank are children.