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Loaves and Fishes suffering summer cash crunch

Loaves and Fishes Community Food Bank has plenty of food in its larders, but a drop in cash donations could put a serious crimp in the organization's ability to operate.

The food bank distributes about $110,000 worth of food to the community every month, but to bring those food donations in, sort, store and redistribute them costs about $35,000 a month.

Peter Sinclair, Loaves and Fishes executive director, said monthly cash donations have dwindled to about $10,000.

"That's what's coming in," Sinclair said. "In terms of how long we can keep running, we're looking at about three to four weeks out."

Charitable contributions cover costs of more than $3,300 per month for vehicle fuel and maintenance, which are higher since the organization acquired a five-ton delivery truck, the $800 monthly electricity to run the facility's cold storage, costs for light, heat and building maintenance, and wages for staff, including a volunteer coordinator who oversees 480 volunteers.

Cash donations, of which the vast majority comes from thousands of individuals and range from $50 to $400 with local businesses making up the balance, fluctuate seasonally and usually start to decline in March before picking up again in September, but this year's donations are far sparser than normal.

"At the end of the day, for every dollar spent, we put $3.50 worth of food back into the community," Sinclair said.

He said if cash inflow doesn't pick up, the organization's delivery truck might have to be taken off the road, which means the food bank would not be able to access the $110,000 worth of food or be able to deliver it to Loaves and Fishes' nine depots for client pick up.

To make a financial contribution online or learn more about the food bank, please visit Loaves and Fishes' website at www.nanaimoloavesandfishes.org.

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