For the 12th year in a row, the Nelson Food Cupboard is preparing holiday hampers for 500 community members in need of a little extra help to make the holiday season healthy and cheerful. Volunteers, local donors and a small staff make this annual program a success.
The holiday hamper program is an extension of the Nelson Food Cupboard’s year round work — providing people impacted by low incomes with healthy food and opportunities to learn food skills in the garden and kitchen.
“Providing fresh, healthy, locally sourced food is a key component of our work,” says holiday hamper coordinator Kim Charlesworth. “We know all about the connection between a healthy diet and good physical and mental health so we strive to serve our clientele the best food possible.”
Everyone the Nelson Food Cupboard serves lives in poverty, but their circumstances vary widely. Some are on seniors’ pensions or long-term disability pensions for physical or mental health reasons, some work for low wages, some are single parents with small children, and the list goes on. The holiday hampers provide recipients with fresh produce, healthy staples and all the fixings for a special holiday meal.
Feedback from the recipients is incredibly positive every year. One single mom who received a hamper last year commented “I went in with my head down, but left with my head up. Being met by such a supportive, giving group of people that thought I deserved so much brought tears to my eyes. Discovering foods like butter and freshly baked sourdough bread in our Christmas hamper were incredible treats for us, and I bet for anyone living on such a limited budget.”
“With the cost of food so high and the holiday season such an expensive time for families trying to buy gifts and warm clothes for their children, helping them out with food hampers is essential,” says Charlesworth.
The community can help in many ways at this time of the year — financial donations go toward the hampers and grocery purchases for the upcoming months, food donations stock the shelves for January, and people interested in putting a hamper together themselves can be matched with an anonymous family.
If you would like to contribute, please send donations to the Nelson Food Cupboard at 602 Silica St., donate online through foodcupboard.org or stop by the office in the lower hall of the Nelson United Church Mondays through Thursdays 9 a.m. to 1 p.m. Or call 250-354-1633.