Paper bag food drive in Central Okanagan critical to meet unprecedented demand – Okanagan

At the Central Okanagan Foodbank, volunteers are gearing up for the annual Thanksgiving food drive, hoping it gives the organization the boost it so desperately needs.

That’s because donations are down but the demand for food hampers is unlike anything the food bank has ever seen.

“It’s unprecedented,” said Trevor Moss, chief executive officer for the Central Okanagan Food Bank. “People are really struggling right now. They’re having the courage to come, but they’re just struggling big time.”

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The demand is so high that in the past five months alone, the food bank, which serves Kelowna and West Kelowna, has seen roughly 1,000 first-time food bank users.

“People don’t have enough money at the end of the month,” Moss said. “We are seeing a big rise in working families coming to the food bank, and single individuals that are renting places by themselves.”

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Moss said the drastic jump in people needing help is being directly attributed to inflation.

“That’s attributed to the high rent costs, of course, high gas prices, and the high food prices,” he said.

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One of those first-time food bank users is a Kelowna resident named Faye, who wanted to withhold her last name.

“I’m very grateful,” she told Global News as she held back tears.

The Kelowna woman had to leave her job to take care of her husband and is on a fixed income.

The couple lives with their adult children but even pooling their resources is proving challenging to

“It has been so crazy with everything going up…when the wages are not following it,” she said.

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When asked what her family would do without an organization like the food bank, she said “We’d probably be starving”.

According to Statistics Canada numbers that were released earlier this week, grocery prices increased by 10.8 percent in August compared to the same time period last year.

That is said to be the fastest jump in the past 40 years.

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The rising cost of food is also having an impact on the number of donations the food bank is receiving from the community during a time when the need is greatest.

“We’re starting to see our donations…in the last two, three months…they have dwindled, and that’s simply because of the cost of food,” Moss said. “It’s also impacting our purchasing power.”

The food bank is hoping for a good response from the community during this Saturday’s brown paper bag food drive.

This past week, thousands of households in the Central Okanagan received large brown paper bags that the food bank is hoping people fill with non-perishable items.

“The bag is a friendly reminder and so we’re just saying whatever people can do, we will graciously accept it and we just want to let them know that they are making a difference,” Moss said.

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Moss said the items that are most needed right now include baby formula, baby food, peanut butter, tuna, and pasta.

The bags should be left on the driveway or sidewalk no later than 9 am this Saturday.

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