Trail food bank survey shows trend to younger clientele

“It’s an interesting snapshot of who is using the food bank,” said the program’s longtime coordinator Eleanor Harper.

A recent survey at a downtown food bank shows people accessing the once-a-week service are much younger than years past, and most have required the helping hand for more than one year.

On a random Tuesday, without planning in advance, volunteers at the Trail United Church handed out the 20-question overview of its food bank to ascertain if the weekly service was meeting the needs of the community.

“It’s an interesting snapshot of who is using the food bank,” said the program’s longtime coordinator Eleanor Harper. “We didn’t want any planning and because we are service oriented, we wanted to know how we are doing.”

Satisfaction with the service was high, with most of 49 female and 44 male respondents saying the food bank is within walking distance, maintains convenient hours and is easily accessible for those with disabilities.

The responses were similar to a previous information and satisfaction survey the church handed out in March 2012.

“We didn’t identify anything that requires change,” said Harper. “But it was really interesting to see what the differences were compared to two years ago.”

People on income assistance or disability pensions account for more than half the food bank users on the date of the survey this year and in 2012.

However, those recipients are younger, with the majority aged 20 to 30 compared to two years ago, when more people in their 50s and 60s accessed the service.

“It makes sense when you think of the economics in the area,” said Harper. “And that there is no market for food in the bars now that anyone can come to the food bank each week.”

Harper was referring to a time when the food banks in Trail and Rossland handed out well stocked monthly hampers, that in some cases, were sold for a low price in the areas drinking establishments.

“We used to have people come up to Rossland and try to scam us for a well stocked monthly hamper,” she explained. “There was a black market for food in the bars when they would sell some really good stuff for 10 bucks,” she said. “That doesn’t happen anymore because why would anyone pay for food when they can get it for free each week?”

The volunteer-run food bank is funded by donors and operates on a monthly cash budget of $1,500 to $2,000 in contributions from the church and community.

People with elbow grease and trucks are always needed to deliver food to the Pine Avenue location on Mondays from 9 to 10 a.m. or assist with picking supplies from various stores in the region.

For more information call the Trail United Church at 368.3225.

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