Food hamper construction underway

Nanaimo volunteers roll up their sleeves to build Christmas food hampers.

Hamperville volunteers Ellen Davis

Hamperville volunteers Ellen Davis

Hamperville 2011 is a busy place as volunteers roll up their sleeves to help assemble Christmas food hampers.

Work got underway Nov. 21 as Christmas Hampers Nanaimo – a partnership between Loaves and Fishes Community Food Band and the Salvation Army – volunteers started hauling in and sorting non-perishable food donations and signing up families for hampers.

Hamperville is located at 867 Bruce Ave. in the old Mid-Island Co-op grocery store building, now owned by Quality Foods, which joined in the partnership by loaning the building to the hamper program.

About 2,000 hampers, enough food to serve up to 4,500 people, are being assembled.

“It’s a huge help to us because the building is in the heart of the community where most of the hampers are being given out,” said Alex Guy, coordinator.

More than 300 volunteers, including students from Nanaimo schools, will participate in the hamper-building until Christmas.

Registration for hampers has already started and 1,100 families have signed up so far, indicating demand will be close to what it was for 2010.

“We’re on par with last year,” Guy said. “We think we’re going to be roughly the same. It could surprise us – we could get a late surge – but at this point it looks like it’s normal or maybe slightly above.”

Last year more than 53,000 kg of food was donated. Cash donations totalling $40,000 bolstered hampers with perishable foods, such as turkeys, hams, eggs, vegetables and other items.

Any food left over is used to stock the food bank to help feed people through January, February and March.

Registration continues until Dec. 19.

Guy said there is no panic to register, since all hampers contain the same items and there is plenty of donations to meet expected demand.

“Nobody is going to get left behind,” he said.

For more information about food hampers, how to register for a hamper, the kinds of items needed, tips on hosting food drives and more, please visit the Christmas Hampers Nanaimo project website at www.hampervillenanaimo.org.