Members of the newly amalgamated Central Okanagan Community Food Bank

Kelowna, Westside food banks amalgamate

Amalgamation will help with the operations of both food banks and bring Kelowna food programs to the Westside.

While those who use the Kelowna and Westside Community Food Banks will not notice much of a change, Wednesday’s announcement that the two organizations are amalgamating to create the Central Okanagan Community Food Bank will make a big difference to how they can be served, says executive director Lennetta Parry.

Following the amalgamation announcement, Parry said both food banks will continue to do business under their Kelowna and Westside names but be operated as one entity.

In addition to saving and efficiencies concerning administration, supplies and operating, Parry said the move will also allow it to introduce a number of programs currently only available in Kelowna to the Westside.

That could include the Food Runners program and assistance food bank workers give clients with issues like resumé writing to help them pursue work.

New Central Okanagan Community Food Bank board chairman Fraser Campbell called the amalgamation a “strategic move that will lead to a stronger and healthier organization focused on improving clients’ lives and donor satisfaction.”

“It helps us to strengthen our ability to address local hunger and food security, share best practices and expand our reach into the region,” added Campbell.

“All the while, making better use of resources (food, funds and volunteer time and talents) and positioning ourselves for long-term success.”

Under the new plan, the Kelowna warehouse will continue to be the hub for distribution with a satellite office in West Kelowna serving clients on the west side of Okanagan Lake.

The new board is made up of three directors from the Westside and six from Kelowna.

As she has done since being hired nearly two years ago, Parry will continue to run the operations of both food banks.

She said the demand for food from the food banks is now 20 per cent higher than in pre-recession days, with the Kelowna Community Food Bank alone serving 2,500 to 3,500 individuals each month.

The Westside Community Food Bank serves about 800 individuals a month.

Together, both operations distribute more than $3.5 million worth of food per year.

One concerning statistic is that a third of the food banks’ clients are children. Each month an average of 65 new households apply for help and 25 per cent of those receiving help are employed in some way.