The 100 Mile Food Bank Society is very pleased to report a highly successful seasonal distribution of its Christmas hampers.
Executive director Bob Hicks says the hampers went out on Dec. 19 to feed 504 people with a total of 13,806 pounds of food inside them.
“It was a great success thanks to the community,” he says, adding other very large donations also came in from municipalities across British Columbia and even Alberta.
Office manager Jennifer Tanner says this year, there were new items included in the hampers along with the usual non-perishables, including the donations from a “huge toy drive” held by Greyhound in 100 Mile House and two big pallets of toys that came in from Alberta.
Santa Claus and his Elf were on site handing out plenty of toys, and the society is “very grateful” to all its supporters over the past year as well for its recent Christmas campaign, she adds.
However, Hicks says the 2017 holiday hampers also held packages of meat, turkeys or Chamber Bucks, produce, and dairy, thanks to a new program developed by Tanner.
The Perishable Food Recovery Program began in July with Save-On-Foods, and since then, Safeway has also jumped on board as a project partner, he explains.
Tanner says individuals and families may stop by the 100 Mile Food Bank for perishables each week, Monday to Friday, 9 to 11 a.m. – except for on its regular distribution days, the first and third Tuesday of every month.
These were previously being tossed out due to a lack of legislation to protect stores from litigation, but more recently, the Food Recovery Act and the Good Samaritan Act passed in Victoria means grocers who donate are protected from lawsuits, she explains.
Tanner adds more local grocery stores are encouraged to get involved in this program.
This means any food that doesn’t pass the food bank’s freshness inspection for human consumption falls into other categories for livestock feed or compost, accounting for the recovery of thousands of more pounds of food, with virtually none going to waste, she explains.
“We have got four main ranchers/farmers that come in and pick up the produce now … for goats, pigs [and so on] … and a few random individuals that came in to feed their guinea pigs, rabbits, chickens and iguanas.”
Tanner says a volunteer comes in twice weekly from Helena Lake Ranch to pick up distributions for her neighbourhood, and whatever the food bank deems not fit for human consumption, she will take to feed her own small animals.
Since the perishable recovery program began, thousands of pounds of food have gone to area elementary schools, and even supported a new breakfast program starting up at Mile 108 Elementary, she adds.
Hicks says another chief support in the new program “working so well” is a donation of almost $15,000 by Food Banks BC, that allowed the food bank to purchase 10 brand new freezers and other appliances.
The food bank’s Christmas hamper organizer, secretary-treasurer Kathy Haveman, adds “we had so much delivered, we had nowhere to put it. We had to buy another freezer on top of that.”