Volunteers at the Forest Grove Community Hall unload donations from Save-On-Foods to be handed out to people around the Cariboo. Martina Dopf photo.

Save-On-Foods donates $8,000 worth of food

Communities rally to support South Cariboo residents

Local grocery stores have stepped up to help communities struggling with access to food.

The Forest Grove Community Centre received $8,000 worth of supplies from the 100 Mile Save-on-Foods on July 14, alongside a truck that arrived from the 100 Mile House 7-11.

“We got 700 pounds of watermelon, a couple hundred pounds of potatoes,” among other supplies, says Michael Gent, a representative of the Forest Grove Volunteer Fire Department.

“Even our local community store in Forest Grove, they came in and donated 100 loaves of bread that they just got in on the order and a bunch of water so everybody is really doing their part,” he says.

Initially, a post on Facebook started an influx of supplies to the Interlakes portion of the South Cariboo, which members of a food bank set up at the Interlakes Community Hall, then used to send food to Lone Butte and Forest Grove. Andrea Blair, who brought in food to the hall on July 13, is credited with starting the movement to bring food to Forest Grove.

Related: Where to get food, supplies in the South Cariboo

When Free Press publisher Martina Dopf spoke with Blair at the community hall in Forest Grove on July 13, she and learned that volunteers were wondering about what was happening with the produce at the Save-On-Foods in 100 Mile House.

“I emailed store manger Richard Bullen, and he got back to me right away that he would donate produce to the food bank, and asked me to get in touch with his assistant store manager. Since then, [I’ve been] trying to put the right people in touch with each other.”

Today, the community centre was happy to receive the food and other supplies, some shipped from as far away as Fort McMurray.

“There are people from Fort Mac through all of Alberta really — Calgary, Edmonton — and throughout B.C. that have come together to start sending products. Right now we’re just trying to get it through the food bank out to the communities in need as quick as we can.”

After Search and Rescue members brought the food to the Forest Grove Community Hall, volunteer fire fighters and others are sorting it out to ship some of it farther north, to Lac la Hache and Miocene.

Melissa Hermiston, along with her husband and children stopped by the centre to see what was going on and see if they could find kitten food.

The family had been evacuated with her parents and grandmother from the 108, and then the 105 and are currently staying with friends in Canim Lake.

“We have two little kittens on our hands that we are trying to take care of. We’re okay for food but we’re starting to ration it out so we thought we would pop by here and see if there was anything specific for kittens,” she says. At the time, food was due to arrive later in the day.

She says her children are dealing well with the displacement so far.

“The kids are amazing. They just think that they are pretty much on vacation. They are delighted to be with us, to be with grandma and grandma, all the time right now.” she says.

“My older daughter, she’s five, so she knows there is a fire and there are a lot of people’s houses are at risk, but the firefighters are working super super hard to save everybody’s homes as best they can.”

In the meantime, communities continue to rally to support evacuees and those displaced by fire.

At Forest Grove, anyone is welcome.

“You do not have to live in the Forest Grove community. If you are here and you need something, come on out. The community hall has graciously opened their doors, we have showers available, we are getting some toiletries in,” says Gent.

“You can come in, get a real stock up on the things you need and visit with some friendly people who are doing their best.”

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Piles of groceries from Save-On-Foods arrive at the Forest Grove Community Hall. Martina Dopf photo.

The Forest Grove Volunteer Fire Department, alongside other volunteers, sort through food. Martina Dopf photo.

Trucks arrive bearing items from as far away as Fort McMurray.

Fort Mac sends their love. Martina Dopf photo.

Melissa Hermiston, along with her husband Jeff, and her kids Archer and Rowan stopped by the Forest Grove Community Hall to find some kitten food. Martina Dopf photo.

Volunteers load a truck full of food bound for Lac la Hache. Martina Dopf photo.

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