The Central Okanagan Food Bank said it has seen an increase in people who need help as the pandemic continues. (Phil McLachlan - Capital News/FILE)

The Central Okanagan Food Bank said it has seen an increase in people who need help as the pandemic continues. (Phil McLachlan - Capital News/FILE)

Increase in families, seniors using Central Okanagan Food Bank as pandemic continues

Current restrictions have hit the Okanagan’s hospitality workers hard

People who need help when it comes to food and groceries have increased not only in the last year but over the last three months.

According to the Central Okanagan Food Bank’s (COFB) revenue development officer Tammie Watson, January 2021 saw 300 new clients reaching out to the non-profit asking for assistance. In March, the food bank served the highest number of clients they’ve ever had.

“This March, we had more people than not only last December in Christmas but also during the first month of COVID last year in March,” she said. “Since the start of this new year, we’ve already had a 23 per cent increase already.”

Watson said there are many reasons for the client increase, but a lot of it has to do with the fact that not all industries are back to full-time work.

“Especially the hospitality industry, which keeps getting hit with different regulations and policies with closures ongoing, so that sector of our community right now is probably suffering the most,” she said.

Watson said overall, COFB has seen an influx of families coming to them for assistance, with 4,295 individual visits recorded in just one month. 1,447 of those visits were children and youth.

“We’re seeing a big influx of families with children coming in, and on the flip side of that, our seniors are also struggling,” she said.

“People who live on a fixed income, who still have to pay for medication, still trying to pay for utilities, rent, and food is just one of those things that are making everything else difficult.”

And due to the ongoing pandemic, most of the COFB’s fundraising efforts have also been put on hold, which Watson said has added to the food bank’s struggle to provide.

“We try to get a few (fundraising events) in with food drives,” she said.

“There’s no lack of people coming to us asking how they can help, so I have to say I’m thankful to the community for that.”

If you are interested in volunteering with the Central Okanagan Food Bank or if you would like to donate, visit their website for more details.

READ MORE: Okanagan College fundraiser counters pandemic


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