If there’s one thing a good hot snap inspires, it’s a rousing round of Jingle Bells.
Well, maybe not, but the Kelowna Community Food Bank could really use a bit of the good cheer during this sudden plunge into summer.
“Christmas in July serves two purposes,” said Lenetta Thordarson, food bank spokesperson.
“First, it helps to remind our community that the spirit of Christmas should be year-round…Second, as our major summer campaign, Christmas in July is critical for maintaining inventory.”
According to the annual Central Okanagan State of the Child report released last fall, the cost of a healthy food basket for a family of four has gone up 38 per cent over the last five years.
On the ground in the food bank, Thordarson says that translates to a lot of families who cannot make ends meet without help, and it makes it much harder for the food bank to help as well.
“The food bank’s purchasing power is being reduced as food prices increase. And increased fuel prices make it more expensive to run our trucks which are used daily to collect donations and make deliveries,” she said.
To counterbalance the affects, the food bank is asking Central Okanagan residents to seriously consider making ongoing donations through programs like the No Hungry Children Campaign which draws a monthly $35 donation from subscribers to support programs like the Tiny Bundles, the Vitality Program and Food Runners.
The Tiny Bundles program offers pre-natal hampers to pregnant mothers and families with babies under one year and includes things like formula, diapers, cereal, baby food and gift certificates for baby supplies.
Then the Vitality Program picks up where Tiny Bundles leaves off, ensuring the essential nutrients are provided to low-income families, while Food Runners picks up perishables from local food vendors to help supplement healthy diets.
“Despite economic recovery we still have seen a lot of people struggling,” said Thordarson.
“There are still people who are on fixed income—those with students loans, seniors, persons with disabilities—and they still find it hard to make ends meet and put food on their table for their family.”
In 2010, food bank use across Canada was at its highest level since 1997, and the story was no different here in Kelowna.
“While the numbers have levelled off in the past few months, there are still many households struggling to make ends meet. In fact, we are seeing an increase in seniors and families with children relying on our service,” Thordarson said.
There are several ways to help throughout the course of the month-long Christmas in July campaign, including:
• signing up for No Hungry Children, the monthly $35 donation subscription
• purchasing Buy BC coupons at the grocery store (every $2 purchase triples the food bank’s purchasing power)
• coming out to the Valley First BBQ and Book Sale, at Orchard Plaza from 11 a.m. to 4 p.m. on July 22
• contributing to the Stuff A Van program which will collect food at Walmart on Hwy. 97 from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. on July 23 and 24.
• coming out to the Ozzy Ozmunds at the Grateful Fed, presented by the Okanagan Developers Group with proceeds going to the Kelowna Food Bank
• sending a donation directly to the Kelowna Community Food Bank’s Christmas in July Campaign at 1265 Ellis St., Kelowna, V1Y 1Z7 or donate online at www.kelownafoodbank.com.