The promise of a well-paying job enticed Janice (name changed to protect privacy) to Burns Lake in the spring of 2013.
For Janice, it was a chance for a new beginning in a new town, but when the job fell through, the bills started piling up. The explosion at Babine Forest Products was still fresh in people’s minds and jobs in the community were hard to find.
Despite handing out resumes all over town, Janice was unable to find work. With her savings gone and nowhere else to turn, she looked to social assistance and the Lakes District Food Bank.
“I saw people in the food bank line up that I had seen them around town,” she said. “These were the same people who were looking for work with me.”
Janice said she wanted to do more for the community.
“I am not the type of person that sits in an arm chair with a remote control and thinks it is going to be okay tomorrow,” she said. “I have to have my feet on the ground and my hands in the mess.”
Janice started volunteering and doing what she could to help. She is one of over 40 community members who are volunteering their time at the food bank this year.
Jobs include data management, shopping, cleaning, re-packaging food, transportation and packing food boxes.
Candice Little, food bank coordinator, credits the success of the food bank to the volunteers.
“There is a lot to be done, and without the volunteers there would be no food bank.”
The stigma that surrounds food bank use is decreasing, and there has been a 32 per cent increase in food bank use in B.C. since 2008.
Here in Burns Lake, the Lakes District Food Bank is open twice a month and more than 80 boxes of food are distributed at a time. This works out to over 75,000 pounds of food distributed every year to the working poor, the elderly, and families with children.
Sixty per cent of the food bank’s budget comes from grants and corporations, while the remainder comes from private individuals in the community who donate money and food every month. Cash donations are used to purchase needed items and fill gaps in the food that is generously donated.
During the 2016 holiday spirit funding drive, running until Dec. 31, the Lakes District Food Bank is hoping to raise a total of $32,000.
Little says this is an achievable goal.
“We have a very generous community and we have already raised $14,000.”
Today, Janice is off social assistance, holds down three different part-time jobs and still volunteers at the food bank.
There are times when she needs some extra help and receives a food box, but this week she is also donating.
“I have food in my cupboard that I’m not eating,” she said. “When I go down to the food bank next week I will be bringing a box of food to donate – there are other people who need it more than I do.”
If you are interested in being a part of the food security solution here in Burns Lake, please make a tax-deductible donation or volunteer your time by contacting Candice Little at 250-251-1466. For more information, visit www.ldfes.com.