Food banks in crisis

More demand and less donations could limit access to Trail's food banks.

The food banks in Trail are running out of supplies.

In particular, the Trail United Church has announced that unless things turn around, its once-a-week food bank will soon be dropped to a once-a-month operation.

Food bank coordinators have seen donations drop off and numbers of clients increase far beyond their ability to manage, said Keith Simmonds, minister at the Church.

Simmonds said that those attending have steadily increased in number while the closure of some key local employers may be affecting donations.

“If this continues, the church sees little option but to cut back on the distribution of food.”

Eleanor Harper, food bank volunteer since 2005, is hoping that reducing the hours won’t be necessary.

“But maybe it’s inevitable,” she said.

“There are fewer people employed and therefore fewer people available to help fund the food bank.”

Three times last year, increased demands emptied the United Church’s pantry and no funds were left to purchase the staple soups and canned vegetables.

Because the food bank purchases groceries with money donated from the community, the volunteers kept their fingers crossed the next donation was on the horizon.

However, instead of turning people away during lean times, volunteers have bought supplies at the case lot sales with their own money, and hoped to get reimbursed.

The food bank operates three Tuesdays a month and feeds over 100 people a week.

Those wishing to help with time or donations can contact the United Church at 368-3225.

Canon Neil Elliot, from St Andrews Anglican Church, reports that its food bank, which is hosted once a month, is serving more people each year.

“About four years ago we were feeding up to 50 people. Today we are feeding over 100 people,” he said.

“Our patrons are not street people, we are seeing a whole range of people needing the help, particularly families who are the working poor.”

The Salvation Army food bank on Rossland Avenue is also struggling to keep its shelves stocked, said Linda Radtke, manager.

“Our Christmas food has started to run out and with the increased number of people coming to use the food bank, we are relying on the public for help,” she said.

Radtke explained that of the increasing number of people needing help, most are families.

In March,  between 30-60 meals were served out of its kitchen daily, and 360 families received hampers.

“Trail has been a tremendous supporter over the years, and this summer we are asking for people who are planting their gardens, to maybe plant an extra row for us,” said Radtke.

“We love fresh produce and will even come and pick it up ourselves.”

On Saturday, the Trail Girl Guides are participating in its annual door-to-door food drive in Warfield.

During the week, the girls deliverd Ferraro Foods grocery bags to each home, and will return to pick up bags that are left out that day, and donate the food items to the Salvation Army food bank.

For more information, call the Trail Salvation Army Family Services at 364-0445.

Those wishing to help with time or donations can contact the United Church at 368-3225.