An army of volunteers will spread out across the Central Okanagan next week to, first deliver shopping bags to thousands of homes in the area, and then go back, door-to-door, to collect the bags they hope twill be filled with food donations for local food banks.
The sixth annual B.C. Thanksgiving Food Drive goes Sept. 17 in the Central Okanagan, but prior to that—between Sept.12 and Sept. 16—the shopping bags will be delivered throughout the community.
“I know there are lots of events happening that weekend (Sept. 17-18) but it will only take a few minutes to fill up a bag with food items,” said Kelowna Mayor Colin Basran, who helped kick off the food drive with a special proclamation he read out Wednesday.
Basran added he hopes the proclamation will spur as many people as possible to give food during the drive this year.
The B.C. Thanksgiving Food Drive is a province-wide campaign that collects food for local food banks and keeps it in the community where it was donated. So, in the case of the Central Okanagan, food collected in Kelowna, West Kelowna, Lake Country and Peachland will all go to help people in need in those communities.
Central Okanagan Food Bank executive director Lenetta Parry said the food drive is an important one for her organization as it comes at a time when there are many empty shelves at the Kelowna food bank.
She said 70 per cent of the donations the local food bank receives are made in the last quarter of the year.
Despite the popularity of the on-going One-Bag Challenge, which was started by Basran in July, supplies are still critically low at the food bank.
The One-Bag Challenge, where Basran challenged five people to donate one bag of food each and asked them to, in turn, challenge five others each and have each of them do the same, has now resulted in more than 40,000 pounds of food collected.
But Parry said the local food bank, which helps about 4,000 people a month, 35 per cent of whom are children, gives out about 7,000 pounds of food a day. That means despite the success of the One-Bag Challenge, it has only raised about six-days worth of food.
The B.C. Thanksgiving Food Drive collected about 46,000 pounds of food in one day last year in Kelowna alone and is the biggest one-day collection the local food banks participate in.
Gordon Oliver, public affairs director with the food drive said while access is limited to condominium buildings and gated communities when it comes to dropping off food collection bags, residents of those types of residential buildings and complexes are encouraged to participate as well by simply dropping of a bag of food to their local food bank. In Kelowna, the food bank is located at 1265 Elis Street. The West Kelowna Food Bank is located at 2545 Churchill Street in downtown Westbank. For more information, call 250-763-7161.
Parry said the food bank is currently most in need of items such as Chunky soup, canned meat and fish, canned fruit and vegetables, peanut butter, baby formula/baby food, white rice, whole wheat pasta and sauce.
The B.C. Thanksgiving Food Drive collection, by about 800 volunteers, will start around 9:30 a.m. Sept. 17 and should be complete by the early afternoon..