To say the Lake Country Food Bank is running like a well-oiled machine might be an under-statement.
But it’s also starting to run faster than ever as the number of people needing help increases each month.
Volunteer manager Phyllis MacPherson, a staff of dedicated volunteers and a community that keeps on giving has helped the food bank keep up with the extra demand and keep supporting local families and individuals who need help putting food on their tables.
“We have seen an increase (in demand),” said MacPherson. “There are no jobs out there so how does anybody expect to survive?”
One way families are getting by is with the help of the Lake Country Food Bank, which provides food for about 600 people a month. MacPherson keeps tabs on families and individuals who are eligible for help from the food bank once a month. They get food, including meat, and some information on how to stretch their allotment for a month.
“We give them recipes along with their food,” said MacPherson. “If you don’t know how to cook, then you learn.”
At 75 years of age, MacPherson has been running the food bank for the past 30 years, developing a system that sees her shelves full throughout the year, thanks to donations of food and money from places like the local fire departments, the schools and different businesses that raise money and donations.
She says it’s a true community effort that has kept the food bank in the business of helping those in need all of these years.
“It is just awesome. My community is the best there is,” she said. “It’s the best place to live. This community has always been good to us. We have plenty of volunteers. It’s gotten so all the fire departments do big campaigns for us. We’re a small little place here but we get a lot of support.”
The increase in demand in Lake Country is echoing the same thing that is happening at food banks across the country as more and more people are finding themselves in need of help.
According to a study by the national organization Food Banks Canada, the need for food assistance programs grew by 2.4 per cent this year and is 31 per cent more than pre-recessionary levels. The study took into account one month of usage, in March of 2012, and found that in B.C. 96,150 people received food from a food bank, an increase of almost six per cent from 2011. Almost one-third of food bank users in B.C. are children, according to the study.
In Lake Country, those in need are supported by the non-profit food bank run by MacPherson and her staff of volunteers. She vows that the shelves will never go empty due to the support from the community and said if donations stopped now she could keep the food bank going for six months.
“There are no wages being paid here so all the money that does come in goes to buying food,” she said. “My freezers are full and my shelves are well-stocked. I know how much money I have and how much I can spend. I know when the people are coming and if I get overloaded I give them another time to come.”
Donations are always accepted at the food bank, which is located at 3130 Berry Road or by calling 250-766-0125.