Volunteers put together hampers at the Central Okanagan Food Bank in December 2017. (Black Press Media file photo)

Volunteers put together hampers at the Central Okanagan Food Bank in December 2017. (Black Press Media file photo)

Central Okanagan Food Bank sees surge in demand as pandemic continues

“Jobs just aren’t as secure as they were,” says Central Okanagan Food Bank representative

The demand for services at the Central Okanagan Food Bank (COFB) is spiking, and is expected to increase even more as the holiday season rolls around.

COFB chief development officer Tammie Watson said lately, they’ve been averaging about 20 new client registrations each day.

“I can tell you right now, I’m looking out my window and there’s a long lineup just off Enterprise of cars waiting to get into our parking lot to receive hampers,” she said.

She said when the pandemic first hit in March, their registration numbers skyrocketed, plateaued in the intervening months, then began to skyrocket again as the second wave of the pandemic hit the region.

READ MORE: 335 new cases in B.C.’s COVID-19 infection surge

“There’s a lot of need right now. We’re anticipating about 2,500 Christmas hampers will be needed this year for Kelowna and West Kelowna residents. We provided just over 1,800 last year, so that’s a significant increase as well.”

Watson added more and more young families are using the COFB’s services, along with seniors and service industry workers who are either working reduced hours or have been let go from their jobs.

“These people were the ones who were hit the hardest when safety policies came into place. Every time there’s a new policy update from the provincial government, we see an increase of people coming through our doors again,” she said.

“Jobs just aren’t as secure as they were.”

With restrictions on gatherings and events, a lot of the food bank’s fundraising campaigns have also had to stop. In order for them to be able to help residents as the holidays approach, they’re asking for the community’s help.

“For us, absolutely 100 per cent financial donation is what will help us get through Christmas, because of our buying power and we know what we need to purchase when we need it.”

“Anyone who’s willing and able to help can go online and donate securely. For every dollar donated, we can purchase $3 worth of food,” she said.

If you wish to donate online, you can do so through the COFB website. COFB is also looking for food donations, which can be dropped off at the West Kelowna and Kelowna donations.

READ: Okanagan Humane Society raffle moves online amid COVID-19

Twila Amato
Video journalist, Black Press Okanagan
Email me at twila.amato@blackpress.ca
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