The Burns Lake food bank operated by LINK, Lakes District Family Enhancement Society, has been working in over-drive since the pandemic hit and are still seeing increased demand.
Candice Little, LINK manager, told Lakes District News that the food bank’s demand has increased by 65 per cent than what it was in February. “There were also times in the peak periods of April, May when we even saw a 100 per cent increase,” she said.
Despite the increase in demand and things slowly opening up, Little said that the food bank had no plans to open up for public to enter or to stop the hampers to go back to their regular way of doing things.
“We are a little bit nervous to do regular food bank stuff like before because we don’t have the building capacity to keep safe distance from one another so we are continuing with our hamper program and honestly until we know, we are through the second wave or whatever, we are not planning to take off the hamper program,” said Little adding that having to switch between programs and adjusting can prove to be very difficult for people.
”It took us quite a while to get everyone to come in once every two weeks, and only getting the hamper and that stuff and now if we switch back and all of a sudden in September or October, are hit with a second wave and we have to go back to hampers again, it is a really unsettling process so we are just hoping to keep this for now until we know that we definitely have this behind us,” she said.
LINK however doesn’t have a lot of volunteers for delivering these hampers and according to Little, that is mainly the food bank’s choice.
“We have volunteers coming in on Monday and that’s to help us prepare the vegetable bags and the fruit bags and repacking some of our non-perishables, but we don’t have volunteers for the actual distribution because we want to minimize exposure for people and keep our volunteers safe,” she said.
The food bank also doesn’t have the support from Carrier Sekani Family Services (CSFS) anymore. When the pandemic was in its peak, CSFS had partnered with LINK to help the food bank deliver the hampers to the people who were self-quarantining or were unable to go out to get food help. However, now that businesses and the economy is opening up, CSFS is not part of the food delivery anymore.
“I hope that if we hit a second wave, we will be able to renew that partnership and get that happening again if needed,” said Little.
The food bank has received a lot of monetary support through federal, provincial grants as well as Food Banks Canada, Food Banks B.C., United Way and several other indivudals and businesses. However, Little feels that the real test of whether the food bank can keep up with the demand or not would be once the pandemic is over.
“It remains to be seen — are we going back to what our distribution used to be or are we going to continue to see more people needing food support because of an increase in unemployed people due to the pandemic? Because in that case we will need to find more ways to support the food bank through more sustainable, ongoing financing,” said Little
adding that right now whatever the food bank has been able to do is because of the community support. “I want to acknowledge our community, individuals and businesses who are always so supportive when we say we need help. That’s the specialty of our community.”