It’s hard to say why people responded the way they did over the six weeks of Thrifty Foods’ Food for Families fundraising effort, but Greater Victoria food banks are glad they did.
The in-store campaign raised a record $274,000 for 16 area food banks between mid-November and right after New Year’s day. The money is welcome news for the food banks, as they work to keep up with an increasing demand for their services.
Brent Palmer, a director with the Mustard Seed Food Bank in Victoria, says the $87,000 they received from Thrifty Foods as a share of the program was used to buy more food for their hampers. He said they have close to 7,000 people who come to them each month, in need of food to help make ends meet.
“We are thankful for people’s response to campaigns such as this and the donations they make directly,” Palmer said. “They definitely responded to our call. It was a tough year, last year.
“Seven thousand people we serve — that’s the size of a small city.”
He was at a loss, however, to explain why donations got off to a slow start at the beginning of fall and winter, and then took off over Christmas.
“People are generally more generous at that time of year,” he said, adding the Mustard Seed — and other food banks — have to continue to work the rest of the year.
It’s campaigns like Food for Families and KOOL 107.3 FM’s Fill the Truck effort, he continued, that help keep the shelves well-stocked when public donations dwindle.
“I think (the public responded) due to our efforts of promotion and signage in the store,” said Vivian Chenard, Thrifty Foods’ manager of community relations. “There were also community food drives and the efforts of the Mustard Seed and other food banks to reach people.”
Thrifty Foods has run the Food for Families campaign for five years and Chenard said this year was the most money they’ve ever raised.
Palmer said the Mustard Seed bought food with their donation money and will use it to make up the hampers with what he calls good, nutritional value. He added they get a great deal for the purchase from Thrifty Foods, meaning their dollars go further.
“Children are the biggest victims of this,” he said of the need for food banks in general. “Any medical expert will tell you that for a child to learn, he or she needs good nutrition.”
The Mustard Seed works with nutritional services for the Vancouver Island Health Authority to create more nutritious options. Palmer said thanks to the donations of Thrifty Foods and other stores all year long, they have plenty of options.
Money raised in Food for Families went to food banks in Victoria, Sidney, Goldstream, the Cowichan Valley, the CMS Food Bank (Mill Bay) and Saltspring Island Community Services. It also helped food banks up-Island and on the mainland.
Sidney Lions Food Bank gets $25,178.32
Thrifty Foods’ two Saanich Peninsula stores (in Sidney and Central Saanich) raised more than $25,000 for the Sidney Lions Food Bank between mid-November and January 1.
Part of the company’s Food for Families fundraiser that brought in $274,000, the donation is used to help keep food on the food bank shelves after the giving season has ended.