Jim Tennant

Jim Tennant

Rooftop food drive hits record height

Save-On-Foods manager spends eight long, cold and wet days and nights on the roof of the store and raised 29,000 lbs of food

A local grocer has reached some extreme heights to help hunger disappear in Vernon.

Save-On-Foods manager Jim Tennant spent eight long, cold and wet days and nights on the roof of the store, with a goal of raising 25,000 pounds of food for the Vernon Salvation Army food bank before he would come down.

“We did raise the amount (goal) a little bit so I wasn’t too sure when I was going to get to come down,” he said of the third annual food-raising effort.

By Thursday, with just 13,000 pounds raised, Tennant was getting a little worried that he would need to start hunkering down for an extended rooftop vacation.

But to his surprise and delight, the community pitched in with a tremendous response, bringing Tennant off the roof Friday with 29,033 pounds raised. That represents approximately 20 pallets and 15 buggies packed full of food.

For the Vernon food bank, where shelves are still a bit sparse from the summer, it’s like Christmas has come early.

“We never want to run out of the staples and we had in fact,” said David MacBain, Salvation Army community ministries director.

So far this year, the food bank has handed out 424,000 pounds of food and has assisted 236 new families. Therefore every donation helps.

“This will certainly help us to get to Christmas,” said MacBain, as the holidays are when hampers are distributed but also when the Realtors’ Food Drive helps fill the need.

The food bank also recently benefitted from the BC Thanksgiving Food Drive, which saw hundreds of volunteers go door-to-door distributing bags and then collecting them.

Several other drives are also taking place, such as BDO’s eight annual Drive Away Hunger campaign, which continues until Oct. 17.

“Our first week we collected 255 pounds of canned goods (beans), the second week we picked 950 pounds of apples at one of the partners’ place, collected 70 pounds of baby food and $65 for jeans day,” said Kathy Pepper, office manager.

BDO also joined Tennant’s efforts and sent Markus Schrott, one of BDO’s partners, up on the roof to keep him company Friday evening. They also hosted a barbecue at the grocery store.

“People are so generous, some would give us a donation and not have anything to eat,” said Pepper.

Such acts of generosity continue to choke Tennant up.

“I had one lady who is on a disability pension and she brought me a rooftop care package. “That was pretty special, pretty touching.”

Tennant had another guest on the roof with him for a night as well, Akbal Mund, who has joined Tennant’s efforts since he started three years ago.

He too was overwhelmed by the generousity of the community.

“I think we were emptying that kettle at least every hour,” said Mund, as donations flowed in.

The kettle was actually stolen Tuesday, putting a damper on the food-raising efforts, on top of the rain and storms endured.

Tennant is retiring the rooftop food drive but says efforts will continue, in extreme fashion, to assist the food bank during this annual time of need.