Plump cherries dangling from limbs. Dark red tomatoes soaking up the sun. Golden corn just waiting to be husked.
There is significant abundance in local gardens and orchards at this time of the year, but frequently, much of it is unwanted and simply goes to waste.
“Some people have such big gardens and it’s not possible for them to use it all,” said David MacBain, Salvation Army community ministries director.
That’s why the non-profit agency wants to establish a relationship between local residents and farmers and the steady number of clients at the food bank.
“We want to get the produce to where it can be used the most,” said Danielle Dueck, gleaning co-ordinator.
“We have seen cherries, apricots and onions but we would like to see a lot more come in.”
For MacBain, it’s all about educating local residents about the conditions facing their neighbours.
“People take what they need from the garden for their supper and they don’t think of the possibilities out there,” he said of donating the surplus.
Many food bank clients live in apartments or limited spaces where gardens are not possible. Purchasing fresh fruit and vegetables is a challenge when rent and utilities must be covered.
“Prices at the store may be reasonable, but it’s over and above milk and cereal. They go with the basics,” said MacBain.
Produce — preferably washed — can be dropped off at the food bank at 3303 32nd Ave. weekdays from 9:30 a.m. to 3 p.m.
Or, residents can contact Dueck at 250-307-7770 or email@example.com and volunteers will be sent out for harvesting.
The call for fresh produce isn’t the only appeal coming from the Salvation Army.
“We’re down to slim pickings,” said MacBain as he looks at largely empty shelves.
“There’s an overabundance of soup and macaroni and cheese, but we’re in need of other items.”
Donations of money and non-perishable food items are currently being sought to help with the 25-to-30 hampers handed out daily. More than 100 people also stop by every day for bread.
The client base includes seniors and families with young children. Some of them have steady employment.
“People are trying to make ends meet and we’re trying to give them a hand up instead of a hand out,” said MacBain.