Loaves and Fishes Community Food Bank has endured a difficult summer with its warehouse, cupboards and even shelves bare of the necessities to help feed Nanaimo’s hungry.
That all changed in a hurry Saturday through the efforts of the community and the second annual B.C. Thanksgiving Food Drive.
Organized in Nanaimo by the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints, the one-day drive produced 12,700 kilograms of food worth more than $68,000.
More than 220 volunteers helped deliver paper grocery bags to 10,000 Nanaimo homes Sept. 9-10, collect the bags with non-perishable food items Saturday and then sort and deliver it to Loaves and Fishes.
“We had a 32-foot semi-trailer and they filled it one and half times with 24 pallets of food,” said Peter Sinclair, Loaves and Fishes executive director. “Our warehouse was pretty much empty and now it’s completely full. Clients coming into the food bank today are getting substantially more food than they have been getting and its good-quality food.”
Bob D’Lerma, food drive chairman, said the support from the community and businesses and the response from the residents was great.
“Everybody in the church got onboard, volunteers helped out from the community … it’s all very humbling,” he said. “We’re already getting calls from individuals and businesses asking how to get involved next year.”
Sinclair said the food drive has given Loaves and Fishes a buffer they can dip into if they have a lower week of donations.
“This, combined with the donations that keep coming in, should get us comfortably through to Christmas,” he said. “The fact of the matter is the last eight weeks we have been scraping bottom, and to have $68,000 worth of food come in – and all sorted – was quite astounding. They did a fantastic job. They pulled all that enthusiasm and focused it for one day and the results really speak for themselves.”
Last year’s drive saw grocery bags delivered to 5,400 households in the city with 7,200 kg of food returned.
D’Lerma said the goal is to double what they do every year until they reach every house in Nanaimo.
“We’re quickly outgrowing our space, but that’s a good problem,” he said. “We’re already looking for a larger venue for next year.”
Provincewide, the B.C. Thanksgiving Food Drive collected an estimated 160,000 kg of food for 50 food banks.