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Christmas food drives take bite out of hunger

Richmond Food Bank operations co-ordinator Alex Nixon and volunteer Gary Lake, who is also the society’s past-president, unload food donations Thursday.  - Matthew Hoekstra photo
Richmond Food Bank operations co-ordinator Alex Nixon and volunteer Gary Lake, who is also the society’s past-president, unload food donations Thursday.
— image credit: Matthew Hoekstra photo

Results of classroom collections, office food drives and larger community campaigns poured into the Richmond Food Bank this week, making Christmas brighter for a record number of people who rely on donations.

“We appreciate the support the community’s given for the people we serve,” said Alex Nixon, the food bank’s operations co-ordinator. “We hope that people will continue to give.”

Volunteers at the food bank on Cedarbridge Way are now serving record numbers—over 1,500 people each week, up from 1,300 last year at this time.

On Thursday, volunteers were busy unloading donations at the food bank warehouse, while other volunteers distributed food to those lined for food.

And while the volume was impressive, donations are down from last year, Nixon said.

“We typically see the number of people needing help increase after Christmas, so we expect to serve even more people in January.”

The number of people who rely on the food bank jumped significantly following the 2008 recession and continues to rise steadily. Local seniors, working poor, people with mental illness, newly unemployed and families struggling to make ends meet all depend on contributions from the community.

“We keep hearing that the economy has turned around, and it has, but we’re not seeing that on the ground quite yet,” said Nixon.

Richmond is often considered a community that’s affluent, but Nixon said there are many areas of the city that aren’t. He said a recent report noted income levels for many areas of the city are either stagnant or have decreased.

“We are a blessed community in a lot of ways, but at the same time there are a lot of people who are struggling.”

As a grassroots organization that doesn’t receive government support, the Richmond Food Bank relies solely on the generosity of the community. Regardless of the amount, all donations help the food bank serve the community, particularly cash contributions, since the food bank’s buying power allows it to turn a $1 donation into $6 worth of food.

•Donations to the Richmond Food Bank, food or cash (tax receipts available), can be made at 100-5800 Cedarbridge Way. Food drop-boxes are also located at Safeway, Save-On-Foods and Marketplace IGA stores. Cash donations can also be made online at richmondfoodbank.org or by mail by cheque: 100 - 5800 Cedarbridge Way; Richmond, BC; V6X 2A7.

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