It isn’t only stockings that need filling during the holiday season – Nanaimo’s food bank also wants to fill hampers.
Loaves and Fishes Community Food Bank is once again teaming with Salvation Army Nanaimo on Hamperville, putting together Christmas hampers. Donations of money, food and volunteer time are needed, according to Peter Sinclair, Loaves and Fishes’ executive director.
“The most-needed food items … are canned beans, canned fruits and vegetables, pasta, pasta sauces and canned proteins,” said Sinclair. “Volunteers are absolutely critical to making the program work. We need to fill over 1,200 volunteer spots, so people can go to the Loaves and Fishes website and they can sign up for shifts now.”
Typically, the goal is to have approximately $400,000 worth of food come in during December, according to Sinclair. The sooner that Loaves and Fishes can get that food in, the easier it is to ensure it gets out to the people in time for Christmas, he said.
Each registrant will get a gift card redeemable for a turkey or a ham. The total cost of that is more than $30,000, meaning money donations are also needed.
Sinclair said organizers have seen a trend where fewer people have been registering over the past few years.
“We have seen the need grow up until probably about two or three years ago and then we saw a slight decrease in terms of the number of people actually accessing the Christmas hampers,” Sinclair said. “So last year we served about 4,700 different people. In the previous years, we had seen that over 5,000, so it’s still a staggering number of people needing food assistance, but we are encouraged that those numbers actually are dropping.”
People can register for a hamper at any Loaves and Fishes depot until Dec. 8 and if they miss registration, there is late hamper registration and pickup on Dec. 23.
Donations are accepted at Loaves and Fishes’ warehouse at 210 Fry St. and online at www.nanaimoloavesandfishes.org.