The Sidney Lions Food Bank has been rebranded as the Saanich Peninsula Lions Food Bank, but Executive Director, Bev Elder says the name change has not altered the core of how the local charity does business.
“The name change was made primarily to better reflect who we are and who we serve,” said Elder.
“It also better reflects our source of volunteers. We’ve served this catchment area for 34 years and we just wanted the public to know who it is we help and who helps us.”
The name change also comes at a time when the Sidney Lions Club and the Saanich Lions have joined forces to support the food bank’s activities.
“Most of my drivers and many of our volunteers actually come from Central Saanich and more are volunteering all the time,” explained Elder.
The food bank currently serves between 800 and 1,000 clients a month, with an increasing number of those clients coming from the ranks of the community’s seniors.
Elder said that 13 per cent of the food banks clients are seniors and that number keeps rising.
“There are a lot of reasons for this, of course, but it can involve a spouse passing away which can mean that the surviving spouse has their pension income substantially reduced. Let’s face it, it’s also because the Peninsula is not a cheap place to live – it’s beautiful, but it’s not cheap.”
Luckily, the ever-increasing demand for food bank services has been met by the generous support of local residents and some partners in the corporate world.
For example, between June 15 and 17, Save-On Foods is holding its Share It Forward promotion in support of food banks. It’s the company’s inaugural event for what they plan to be an annual campaign for Save-On and Western Family. Every Save-On-Foods and PriceSmart Foods store in Western Canada will promote the event in its own way with unique promotions and entertainment to celebrate. On the Peninsula, Save-On-Foods, is donating 25 per cent of the profits on all Western Family items sold to the Saanich Peninsula Lions Food Bank.
“We are so excited to partner with Western Family and our amazing customers to support families in our communities by providing them with access to a variety of nutritious foods through their local food banks,” said Save-On-Foods president Darrell Jones.
“I could not be more proud of the way our stores and our customers rally to give back to their communities, and I know together, we will make a big difference in the lives of our neighbours who need it most.”
In another example of corporate support, in January of 2018, Thrifty Foods entered into an agreement to provide regular supplies of fresh produce, dairy and deli items to the food bank. A $70,000 grant from Food Banks BC allowed the local food bank to purchase a refrigerated truck so that those donations could be collected.
“It’s amazing the difference it made for people to have access to fresh produce and dairy. We used to have clients come in once a month for their food, but now we have some who come in weekly to get additional fresh foods. It’s all a matter of being able to respect the needs of the clients and treating them the way we’d like to be treated,” said Elder.
Elder noted that she sees one of the food bank’s primary duties to be respectful of the clients who come to the building, looking for help.
“Regardless of whether its a senior citizen or a young person who has just lost their job, the hardest thing in the world for our clients is to walk through the doors the first time. But the truth is that most of us are only a few paychecks away from needing a service like this. We treat everyone with respect and work very hard to ensure that we do nothing to disrespect the dignity everyone deserves.”