At Victoria’s Mustard Seed Food Bank, the demand for help is increasing every day as more and more people struggle to make ends meet.
“Prices of gas are higher, everything is expensive now, groceries are really expensive,” explains Mustard Seed Food Bank community services manager Anita Zacker. “You used to be able to get a bag of food for $20 and now it’s almost $40.”
The Mustard Seed Food Bank feeds about 5,000 people a month and many are working families.
“I think what we’re seeing more of now is middle-income people. They can pay their rent and they can, you know, pay their gas bill and hydro but they just can’t make ends for the food,” says the Mustard Seed’s Janice James.
Higher demand means there is a big need for more donations—and volunteers.
“We need volunteers for every position, now more than ever, but always throughout the year we need volunteers,” says Anitas. “We’re super flexible with our hours, with the different roles we have here.”
Right now, the Mustard Seed has about 40 to 50 volunteers, but they say they could easily double that number.
“They’re our backbone, they’re everything, they really are,” Janice says. “They’re gold for us.”
“They’re crucial,” adds Anita. “We do operate primarily with volunteers. We have a very small staff so we highly rely on our volunteers. It’s an amazing way to give back to the community.”
One of the ways people can volunteer and give back this December is by wrapping presents.
“This year, for the first time since COVID, we’re doing Christmas gift wrap at Mayfair Mall and Hillside Mall so we’re looking for volunteers to wrap and that will give us some donations that will in turn come back here,” Janice says.
The annual ‘Stuff the Bus’ fundraiser for the Mustard Seed is also taking place on Dec. 5 and all these fundraisers are a big help.
“They make a big difference,” says Janice. “We do have our regular donors and people that give us annual amounts or monthly amounts, but those extra donations make a big difference — especially around Christmas — and we’re all here because we want to make a difference in people’s lives. We all want to help in whatever way we can.”