The 2020 Emergency Services Fight Back Against Hunger Food Drive will take place in Lumby and Lavington Wednesday, Oct. 7 at 5 p.m. Due to COVID-19 safety precautions, residents must leave donations at the ends of their driveways for collection. (File photo)

Lumby food drive forges ahead in critical year for food banks

Lumby-Lavington residents can leave donations at the end of their driveway Oct. 7

The Lumby and District Food Bank is in dire need of support this year, and local emergency crews are once again stepping up to the task.

On Wednesday, Oct. 7 at 5 p.m., crews from the Lumby and Lavington fire departments, Lumby RCMP, paramedics, conservation officers and highways personnel will be going through Lumby and Lavington for the Emergency Fight Back Against Hunger Food Drive.

The Lumby drive was started six years ago by Gary McLaughlin, traffic officer with the Vernon-North Okanagan RCMP. McLaughlin said this year’s drive was nearly cancelled due to the need for distancing amid COVID-19.

But with the food bank’s stock “critically low” as the pandemic continues to impact the work force, he said the need was too great to forego its biggest event of the year.

“They’re just decimated with their stock and there’s never been a bigger need,” McLaughlin said. “It is so bad that some of the management of the local food bank even came to my house and said (they) need help.”

The team has come up with a plan to ensure food donations can be collected and delivered safely. The drive won’t be going door-to-door; donations must instead be left at the foot of residents’ driveways for collection by 5 p.m.

READ MORE: COVID cancels main events of Fall Okanagan Wine Festival

Normally the donations would be brought to the local grocery store for sorting, but this year they’ll be taken directly to the food bank by the collection team.

No emergency vehicles will have any contact with donation items, which will be transported to the food bank by a designated vehicle.

McLaughlin, who first started the food drive in Revelstoke 11 years ago, was a self-described “food bank kid” growing up in northern Ontario.

“It was just something that was part of our life,” said the Vernon RCMP veteran of 13 years, who lives in Lumby. “I’ve always tried to give back to the food bank as much as I can.”

He lauded the first responders who agreed to don PPE and carry the drive forward, without batting an eye.

“We never got a no from anybody,” he said.

Last year the food drive raised more than 6,000 pounds of food and $2,500 in cash donations for the Lumby food bank.

READ MORE: COVID exposure likely scenario in SD67, says Interior Health

Brendan Shykora
Reporter, Vernon Morning Star
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