Sunday, May 06, 2012

Its Hunger Awareness Week, So I Visit the Sechelt Food Bank

My journey with Jamie Oliver's Food Revolution didn't begin with the TV show or even Jamie Oliver himself, but rather, a boy without a lunch.  I've seen hunger before-when we had a group home and foster kids, often kids came to us from homes where they didn't know where their next meal was coming from.  At work, there were often children who were hungry.  For some reason, it didn't hit home completely until that day when I drove home.  I looked into our full fridge, and realized that if I really wanted to make change, I had to do something.

Doing something means making sure that there is healthy food, yes-but also that kids just get food to begin with.

Each month, Food Banks Canada feeds 900,000 people, 38% of whom are children. What better way to really learn about hunger and the food banks, than visit one myself?

Sunshine Coast Food Bank

The statistics are really no different on the Sunshine Coast. Working families, people with children, older women, young people, all different age groups need the food bank.  Food banks all differ with how many times they distribute per month-in Sechelt, it's every week.

Some of the food stores

There was some concern when I took this photo that it would appear that there is a lot of food, when in fact it's quite the opposite.   Between rising food prices and more people accessing services, donations are lower.  The amount of food which I saw (and there really wasn't a whole lot), was only enough for one more, maybe two, distribution days.

Locally, when I've shopped at some of our grocery stores such as Extra Foods, we're asked if we want to donate $2 when we get to the cash register. This money really goes to the Food Bank, by giving them a credit at the store so that they can buy whatever it is they need.  Money really is the best donation, because the Food Bank can then turn around and buy things in bulk and get a better deal.  The food bank relies on these donations!

Peanut Butter

Protein is really important for people who are hungry. (see the Protein for People project)  Sources of cheap protein like canned beans, peanut butter, or tuna are all welcome.  If large containers are donated, they can be broken down into something that can be divided among a lot of people

I was really impressed by the amount of healthy, cheap food that was available-rice, beans, lentil and barley.  It was explained to me that some people don't know what some of those foods are, so volunteers who cook visit, make a big pot of soup, then give out small samples.  Then it gives people an idea what they can do with the lentils or barley.

Our food bank is a little unique-there is a cooler, so they do accept donations of fresh fruit and vegetables as long as you drop them off right at the food bank and not at the stores.  I thought this was great, because in the summer you can buy cases of fruit for fairly cheap-and this is a great way to donate to the food bank.  If you have a garden, there is the "Grow A Row" campaign where people can grow and then donate their extra veggies to the Food Bank.

What are some other things you can donate that I didn't expect?

-personal care products (toothpaste, shampoo, deoderant, feminine care products)
-cleaning products

What are some of the most needed items at the Food Bank?

-canned meats and beans
-peanut butter
-pasta sauces
-whole grain pastas and cereals
-100% fruit juice
-canned fruits and vegetables
-canned hearty soups and stews
-baby formula, diapers

The people who run the food banks are so passionate about what they do, that I was impressed by their dedication and care to take care of others.  It's never a lot of food that they give, but just enough to help people get by.    This week, drop an extra donation in the collection basket for the food bank, or take part in my $5 Lunch Challenge.

Nobody should go hungry in Canada.  Especially a child.

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