The Summerland Food Bank and Resource Centre is preparing food hampers for the holiday season. (Black Press file photo)

The Summerland Food Bank and Resource Centre is preparing food hampers for the holiday season. (Black Press file photo)

Summerland Food Bank demand rising

Number of holiday hampers expected to approach pre-pandemic levels

Requests for holiday hampers from the Summerland Food Bank and Resource Centre are higher this year than last year.

Hal Roberts, resource coordinator at the centre, said 125 households in Summerland received hampers in December 2021, and so far they have already topped that in 2022.

“We’ve surpassed what we did for last year,” he added.

The hampers will be distributed during the week of Dec. 15 to 21.

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During the first part of the COVID-19 pandemic, the demand for hampers dropped, as people were receiving benefit cheques. However, when the pandemic benefit program was dissolved in October, 2021, the demand for hampers increased.

“We’re anticipating going to be back to our pre-COVID numbers,” Roberts said. In the years prior to the pandemic, the food bank distributed between 130 and 140 hampers in December.

While the demand for holiday hampers is increasing Roberts said there is a change in those receiving these packages. More working families are receiving the packages now than in the past.

According to a recent report by Food Banks Canada, one in seven of those accessing food banks are employed. More than 33 per cent of food bank users in Canada were children.

Roberts said inflation, especially rising food costs, has had an effect on food bank demand.

In December, gift cards are issued in addition to the food packages, since the food bank does not have the refrigeration capacity to store turkeys and other meats for the holiday season.

Roberts said the community has been generous in its support for the food bank since it was established in 1984. At the time, it was intended as a temporary service, but it has become a permanent part of the community.

Roberts said the community has been generous with food and cash donations and also with volunteer support. At present, more than 60 people volunteer their time at the facility.

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