Food bank looks to drive in donations
Nicola Valley and District Food Bank volunteers are busy preparing for Saturday’s annual food drive, which is a volunteer effort that aims to collect donations from Merritt homes.
The Merritt Fire Rescue Department and Coca-Cola have volunteered to join the collection. Coca-Cola is sending a truck with four workers to comb the streets and gather donations.
The drive puts a dent in the annual requirement of food that is needed in the Nicola Valley
“The donations we get from this last about a couple months,” Food Bank Manager Karen Flick said.
People are asked to leave the items out for collection early Saturday morning.
“Also, if [volunteers] come knocking on the door, they will have a sticker that says they are a food bank volunteer,” she explained. “But if people put it in a bag, that would be good.”
She said only some volunteers will knock on the door and ask for donations, but others will just collect what is outside.
Food Bank Co-ordinator Linda Monkman works closely with Flick. She said volunteers are welcome to go to the Food Bank at 2026 Quilchena Ave. for hot beverages at 8:30 a.m. Saturday before collecting donations.
Routes will be assigned at that time. Lunch will be served to the volunteers later in the day.
“They come back with bags of groceries, so they run them into the Food Bank where I have three tables set up,” Monkman said. “Everything is categorized and then stored.”
The drive is only accomplished through the efforts of many volunteers who visit each home to pick up the donations.
“It’s phenomenal. You’ll see boxes under the table that are filled up maybe five times.”
The Food Drive has continued for about 15 years ago.
To donate or to volunteer, call the Food Bank at 250-378-2282 or Linda at 250-378-3749.
Walkers, drivers and sorters are needed.
Christmas Hampers and Winter Wear
The Food Bank is also assembling Christmas hampers and winter wear at a separate location that can help address the volume of food to feed Merritt’s needy during the holiday.
On Tuesday, about eight volunteers packed into relatively tight quarters they share with an assortment of winter clothing and various toys that will be used to fill Christmas hampers.
They are busy sorting the items to prepare them for mid-November when the Food Bank places each item into the hampers.
Each volunteer dedicates about 20 hours per week.
Monkman said the group aims to fill 300 hampers, and they tallied about 260 last year.
Those wanting support from the food bank need to earn under a maximum income:
• one person, $1,100
• two people, $1,700
• three people, $1,800
• four people, $1,990
• five people, $2,105
• six people, $2,205.
• seven or more, $2,450.
The hampers are handed out from Dec. 18 to 20. Each contains a gift and various food, such as vegetables, juice and a turkey. However, hams are given to those who are the single occupant of the home.
The winter wear program started on Monday and items for the hampers started being sorted this week at their new location at 1937 Quilchena Ave., where applications can be picked up to receive the hampers. The group is scheduled to continue occupying the building until the new year.
With all the empty buildings in Merritt, Monkman said she is surprised no one has offered to allow the Food Bank to sort the Christmas hampers at a venue for free.
The group is paying $1,000 per month for rent.
That’s money that could go towards feeding the Nicola Valley’s most needy.
“We have a lot of people on limited income, we have a lot of disability, we have a lot of single moms who are what they call the “working poor” and they don’t have enough to sustain a family if you’ve only got 10, 15, 20 hours of work in a week,” Monkman said. “I know a lot of pensioners out there just making ends meet. I think about half the population of Merritt could qualify.”
She noted some of the lowest rent in Merritt costs between $400 and $450 per month, and with income assistance as low as $610, that leaves about $150 for other necessities.
“People wish we could give out food every second week, but we just can’t afford that,” she said.
The winter wear program allows people to pick up items they need to stay warm over the winter. That initiative is scheduled to end in mid-November to make way for about 30 tables that are needed to assemble the hampers.