Before he retired earlier this year, Bob Hicks was a staple at the 100 Mile House Food Bank.
As past-president and founder of the 100 Mile House Food Bank, Hicks knew the names of most of the clientele and remembered their birthdays. He was there day in, day out until he retired earlier this year. He died recently after a bout with illness.
“He was the face of the food bank,” said Amber Summerhayes, a director of the society for the past two years. “He was just incredibly inclusive. His door was open to everyone, his arms were open to everyone. There was no judgment ever.”
Hicks started the 100 Mile Food Bank Society from scratch in a small church basement in the early 1980s, seeing a need for the service in the South Cariboo. Summerhayes credited Hicks with “pushing and pushing” to get the food set up and then following through with grants and fundraising efforts to keep it running.
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The society now runs out of a large facility with its spacious warehouse area on Seventh Street, serving as a hub that feeds 22 food banks in the central northern region of British Columbia, including Kamloops, Fort St. John and Prince Rupert. Hicks was also instrumental in partnering with Save-On-Food’s Loop program to ensure food didn’t go to waste when it could go to people who needed it.
The food bank shares portions of its goods with the Clinton Food Bank, a satellite branch of its location, as well as the 70 Mile House soup kitchen. The Stemete7uw’i Friendship Centre, Loaves and Fishes, Canadian Mental Health and after school programs also benefit, Summerhayes said.
Altogether, it serves about 5,000 people, including its hamper distribution twice a month, Summerhayes said.
“(Hicks) was like a bulldog. He set into motion and solidified things to fight food insecurity and brought people’s attention to it,” Summerhayes said. “I see all the inroads he made with the organization before I even got here. He changed the perception for a lot of people of what the food bank is and who uses it.”
She said Hicks was a kind man who has made a difference in the lives of so many people facing both long-term challenges and needing short term support. In 2012 and 2013, Hicks was recognized for his volunteer work with Queen’s Diamond Jubilee medals, which are bestowed on individuals who give back to their communities.