Soups into this box. Condiments into another. Pasta sauces over here.
Volunteers at the Vernon Salvation Army Food Bank were busy Thursday morning, taking hundreds of bags of food out of apple bins and sorting them into hampers, the result of the 36th annual Realtors Food Drive Wednesday night.
It’s estimated more than 16 tonnes of food was collected by real estate agents and other volunteers in Greater Vernon.
“It was wonderful,” said Dawn Taylor of Re/Max in Vernon, who helped organize the food drive. “It went smooth and all of the volunteers were excited to be doing their thing.”
“Some of these volunteers come on an annual basis, some are brand new today,” added David MacBain, community ministries director with the Salvation Army as he watched the food being sorted. “To have their support and organize it all is tremendous. If it’s just in a big pile, it doesn’t help anybody.”
The amount of food collected is down from 2012, but there were about 50 fewer volunteers out on Wednesday. This year’s total could be higher as some routes were not covered when it came time to collecting bags of food left out by residents.
MacBain’s house, for example, was missed.
“I brought my own bag down here today and other people can do that as well,” said MacBain. “If staff has a moment, they can let the people peek in here and see how generous the community has been.”
“People can call any real estate agent if they were missed and they’ll be happy to come and get the food,” added Taylor.
The food drive captured the attention of Vernon Salvation Army Capt. Ray Lamont, who returned with her husband to their native B.C. five months ago after spending the last six years in Montreal.
“Two very enthusiastic thumbs up,” said Lamont when asked her reaction to the food drive and the bags of food donated. “I am truly thankful to the generosity of the community to give so willingly to others in need. It’s amazing.”
MacBain said Wednesday’s drive will help the food bank into 2014.
“It gives us assurance there will be an ample supply to fill the hampers we need into 2014,” he said.
Taylor praised grocery chains Safeway, Save-on-Foods and Buy-Low Foods who donated all of the bags to the drive.
The apple bins were donated by the B.C. Tree Fruits Cooperative.
Throughout the North Okanagan Thursday, food bank volunteers were busy sorting groceries.
In Armstrong, an estimated 7,500 pounds of food was collected during the annual realtors drive Wednesday.
“And we just had another person walk through the door with another bag,” said Armstrong Food Bank coordinator Elizabeth Coss at lunch Thursday.
In Enderby, about 3,300 pounds of food was collected.
“If people still want to donate, they can drop off their food at any realtor’s office or at St. Andrew’s United Church,” said organizer Dianne Nadeau.
And in Lumby, six volunteers canvassed the village and collected an estimated 2,000-to-3,000 pounds of groceries which will help stock the shelves into the new year.
“Things were very good,” said Bruce Mackie, chairperson of the Lumby Food Bank Society. “Everything helps and most of this will help us out until probably the end of February.”