Rising food costs in recent months have become a burden to food banks as they also struggle to support rising numbers of people needing access to food.
“Lately, we’ve been serving around 175 people every day we are open. With a lot of food costs rising 30 to 50 per cent, it’s a challenge to keep our shelves as well stocked as we’d like and to give people struggling to make ends meet enough food for themselves and their children,” said Jenny Erickson, the Nelson Food CupboardSociety’s food bank manager.
“We are always sourcing out the best deals to stretch our budget, but even those have got more expensive and haven’t allowed us to offer the variety, especially of fresh produce, that we normally can.”
As one way to tackle this challenge, the Nelson and District Credit Union has teamed up with the Nelson Food Cupboard to host a healthy food drive from today through Friday, April 15. Anyone able to make a donation can drop it off at the credit union or directly at the Nelson Food Cupboard.
“In the communities we serve, we increasingly see the challenges individuals and families have in meeting their basic food requirements, so it is important for us to support the Nelson Food Cupboard,” said Tom Atkins, marketing and relationship development manager for the credit union. “Their great services offer individuals and families access to barrier-free healthy food and programs with personal development opportunities.”
Both groups would love to see the bins loaded with healthy non-perishables, such as whole grains, sugar-free peanut butter, canned fish, and low-sugar cereals and snacks for kids. The food cupboard also welcomes perishable food donations, but those must be co-ordinated through the food cupboard to ensure refrigeration space is available upon delivery — donors can call the food cupboard at 250-354-1633.
“This is a short term solution to a big problem,” says food cupboard society co-ordinator Marya Skrypiczajko. “What we’d really like to see are structural changes to the provincial disability and income assistance rates and a higher minimum wage so fewer people in our community live in poverty and need to rely on food banks and hot meal programs.”
When asked what more the community can do, Skrypiczajko suggested people could become monthly financial donors to support the food cupboard’s work year round. Monthly donations go toward food costs for the food bank and programs that teach low income community members valuable food and life skills through gardening, cooking and produce gleaning programs.
The Nelson Food Cupboard is located at 602 Silica St., in the lower hall of the Nelson United Church.