Food bank use continues to grow as more people ‘need it’ on Vancouver Island


Rick Templeton loaded up on supplies at Nanaimo’s food bank Tuesday to feed the dozens of people he expected to line up outside his Nanaimo church on Wednesday.

“I’m just thankful I can do it. I’m 71, I’ve got great health, I’ve got everything I need in life,” Templeton told CHEK News.

For the past five months, the retiree and his wife have been spending their own money to serve homemade soup and hot dogs to people at his church’s food bank distribution day.

But since seeing a 40 per cent rise in the number of people they are feeding, the couple has sought help from Nanaimo’s Loaves & Fishes Food Bank to keep up with demand.

“What we do outside the Alliance Church every Wednesday is there’s free hot dogs, free soup, and other things we make, and everyone’s welcome to come and have a lunch and even take something home if you need to,” said Templeton.

According to Loaves & Fishes, food bank use continues to climb across the Island, as people find themselves unable to make ends meet.

But there is some hope in the latest data from March 2024. Instead of the over 30 per cent increase from December 2023 over December 2022, March’s food bank demand slowed to an increase of 14 per cent from March 2023.

“The number that it’s increasing is actually less than it has been, but that’s only because the numbers in March, the year before, were so high,” said Peter Sinclair, executive director of Nanaimo’s Loaves & Fishes Food Bank.

The increase raised the food bank’s monthly usage up to 10,000 visits by 4,500 people in March.

According to Loaves & Fishes, it has only been able to keep up with rising demand because of its growing food recovery program that collects unwanted food from grocery stores and the help of volunteers to sort it.

“Because of an increase in volunteer numbers, we’re doing a better job of getting all the food that’s coming in sorted, which means there’s more food to get the food sorted and to people who need it,” said Sinclair.

So Templeton and his wife plan to keep on serving hot meals right alongside, to help, as long as its needed.

Skye Ryan

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