July 08, 2015 - 3:45 PM
CENTRAL OKANAGAN - Citing cost and operational efficiencies, the Kelowna and Westside community food banks have announced they are merging to form the Central Okanagan Community Foodbank.
Lenetta Parry, already the executive director of both organizations, says the move was prompted by usage rates that remain stubbornly high.
“Locally foodbank usage is up 20 per cent from pre-recessionary levels,” she told the crowd assembled at the foodbank warehouse on Ellis Street in Kelowna today, July 8. “The Kelowna Community Food Bank serves to 2,500 to 3,500 people per month and the Westside serves another 800. Together we distribute $3.5 million in food per annum.”
Parry said their client base is evolving and the merger is partially in response to that.
“The face of hunger is changing; 33 per cent of our clients are children, 12 per cent are seniors, 65 new households register with us each month. Those are households who are using our services for the first time,” she said.
“We’re seeing more homeowners, more business owners and more employed people using the foodbank. In fact, in our 2015 count more than 25 per cent of clients cited employment as their primary source of income.”
Parry said she is often asked why food banks exist in Canada, ostensibly a First World country with a high standard of living.
“There are lots of reasons. The high cost of living, the high cost of eating, low income, disabilities and chronic health problems and seniors who are on fixed incomes,” she said. “The issue of hunger is so complex that it takes a collective action, a unifying vision and that’s the spirit we move forward with today.”
The merger took effect July 1 but consideration of it began last year, Parry said. The Kelowna location will be the main office while a satellite office will remain open in West Kelowna. Donations to the foodbank can be targeted to a specific location.
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News from © InfoTel News Ltd, 2015