by Kerstin Auer —

The Nicola Valley and District Food Bank recently received a $1,540 donation from Save On Foods, the proceeds of this year’s Share it Forward campaign. 

As the Herald previously reported, the annual Western Family Share it Forward event ran from May 25 to 31, 2023 and 50 percent of net proceeds from any Western Family product sold in store or online went directly to local food banks. At the time, Dan Huang-Taylor, executive director of Foodbanks BC said that the need for support is greater than ever and encouraged everyone to purchase Western Family from May 25 to 31 to support the hundreds of thousands who rely on food banks and hunger relief services across Western Canada every single month. 

Derlanda Hewton, general manager of the Nicola Valley and District Food Bank echoes the increased need for support and donations. While upwards of $3,000 have been raised locally in previous years, this year’s donation of $1,540 is appreciated just as much. 

“It just helps us pay our bills,” explained Hewton. “We appreciate any donation that comes in, no matter if it’s $5 – we have someone who gives us $5 monthly – it all helps, and it all goes towards being able to feed the people that need to be helped in the community.”

The local food bank has seen a huge increase in demand over the past year, but unfortunately, not in support and donations. Donations in response to fires and floods as well as emergency funding enabled the food bank to provide to their clients comfortably, but those sources are no longer available. The whole community is feeling the pinch of the current economic reality, and costs have increased for the food bank as they have for everyone else. The latest donation from Save On Food will help pay the bills for one week. 

“Our bills for product, it averages out to be about $1,500 per week, that we purchase,” added Hewton. 

In addition to more demand from the community, the food bank has also seen a whole new demographic, with seniors and immigrants needing support. 

“Seniors are on a limited budget, not all of them are fortunate to have pensions behind them, except for whatever the government pensions are, and it’s kind of sad that they work all their life and they come through our doors with tears in their eyes because they never thought they would find themselves here,” said Hewton. “We have seen a huge increase in immigrants coming in and needing support. We invite them in, we help them, but it’s just a new demographic that we’re starting to see more of and to be able to help.”

Educating youth about this shift for food banks and how clients are supported in every possible aspect is important. According to a recent Facebook post by the food bank, they welcomed grade 6 and 7 students from Diamondvale Elementary School for a tour to pass on the message that needing to use a food bank is not a shameful experience. 

“I really think it’s important to relearn what a food bank does with the people who have the use of the food bank, that it’s changing. The education needs to be out there as to what we do and who we help,” added Hewton.

For more information on the Nicola Valley and District Food Bank, including donation and volunteering opportunities, visit www.nicolavalleyfoodbank.com, or call 250-378-2282. 

Fresh fruit and vegetables grown by anyone in the community in their garden are always welcome and can be dropped off during regular business hours. The food bank is located at 2026 Quilchena Avenue, and is currently open Tuesday through Thursday.