Penticton food bank struggles to find volunteers; concerned about future - InfoNews

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Penticton food bank struggles to find volunteers; concerned about future

The shelves at the Salvation Army food bank in Penticton are not bare, but they could use some volunteers.
Image Credit: FACEBOOK / Salvation Army Penticton
April 24, 2020 - 3:00 PM

The food bank in Penticton is seeing the same amount of donations during the COVID-19 pandemic as it has in previous years, but it’s concerned about the future.

The Penticton Salvation Army Food Bank has had an uptick in new registrations for hampers and more people are dropping by daily for food, said Al Madsen, business manager with food bank.

“We’re even thinking that after the (pandemic) is over the need will still be there as the economy starts to recover,” he said.

Volunteers have also stopped coming to the bank since most are seniors concerned for their health, Madsen said, and the bank has had to hire two additional members to replace them.

Five food drives have not happened this year because of COVID-19.

It's a similar story across the country, as food banks report low volunteer numbers due to the pandemic.

“We fear as this progresses the need will be greater and greater,” he said.

However, with community support, the number of food donations compared to last year has been about the same and monetary donations have even increased, he said.

“We were very blessed here, for example, we’ve had a very successful Christmas campaign and our Christmas campaign isn’t just for Christmas, it’s for help throughout the year, but excuse the pun, we’re eating into that now,” he said.

To maintain physical distancing measures, the food bank also can’t have a large number of volunteers, he said.

“We have to really think outside the box here because we have to remain safe at the same time,” Madsen said.

Food banks across Canada have reported a shortage in volunteers during the pandemic.

READ MORE: Kamloops Food Bank breaks record, collects 70,000 pounds in food donations

At the end of March, the B.C. Government announced a $3 million funding boost for food banks which the Penticton bank has been eligible for, Madsen said.

“Food Banks British Columbia will distribute the money among food banks province-wide to support their immediate needs to buy and distribute food, pay employees and cover other costs essential to the delivery of their food programs. Food Banks BC was selected to distribute the funding because of its expertise in management of food distribution,” according to the province in a news release.

The $3 million emergency grant is from the Community Gaming Grants program.

— With files from The Canadian Press


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