Susan McFarland, acting operations manager for the Clearwater and District Food Bank, gives a tour of the charity’s headquarters.

Clearwater Food Bank in need of volunteers

More hands to make lighter work

Since the early 1980s the Clearwater and District Food Bank has been helping supplement the pantries of area residents in need.

From its humble beginnings in a cluster of small rooms at its 742 Clearwater Village Rd. location to its present, more spacious and efficient venue at the same address, the charity now hands out roughly 31,000 kg of food a year.

Those who run the food bank say the community is generous with donations, but an aspect they could use help with is extra hands to share the work.

“We could use more volunteers; we’re getting quite efficient with getting food—the community, the gardens, everyone seems to be supporting us really well, we’re very well supported by Buy-Low Foods, and the local churches are also awesome to us,” said Linda Selbee, treasurer with the organization.

A lot of the support also comes from three yearly fundraisers the food bank hosts, including a spring food drive in June, a pancake breakfast hosted with the Clearwater Elks in the summer, and the annual Christmas Concert it organizes to raise funds.

Aside from these events, the rest of the food and money is brought in through regular donations.

For those interested in contributing, Selbee said eggs and fresh produce are always welcome, but for anything else, she’d like to remind people to check the expiry dates on items before dropping them off, as much of the food received is way past its best before date.

“Typically we get anywhere up to 1,700 pounds of food (from the food drive) and out of that we’d get 200 pounds of outdated stuff,” added food bank chair Harry James.

“Now that we have a cold room, which we just got through a grant from United Way, that gave us the opportunity to be able to provide fresh vegetables because otherwise we couldn’t store it, and through Food Banks B.C. and Food Banks Canada we replaced a lot of our fridges and freezers, so it’s been a big help and allows us to handle dairy products, which before we weren’t able to.”

Anyone who may need to use the food bank’s services has to meet some basic requirements and is encouraged to phone ahead of their first visit if possible.

A photo ID is needed as well as ID for all individuals in the household receiving the food, including birth certificates for children who may live there.

The food bank user’s address also needs to be verified with a rent receipt or hydro bill, then they’re eligible for one hamper a month per person.

All information is kept confidential.

Susan McFarland, acting operations manager, said hampers are given out based on the individual, with both children’s and adult hampers available.

“A child’s hamper has five to seven days worth of fruits and vegetables, grains and protein; these are for children eating solid food to age 13,” she said.

“Then an adult hamper has the same minimum in it in terms of (food groups) and we add in the fresh stuff like bags of carrots, potatoes, fruit and onions—we’re going to a full dozen eggs as of the first of February (from half a dozen.)”

If anyone is looking to donate to the food bank there’s a drop off depot at Buy-Low Foods, or donations can be delivered directly to the location during operating hours, which are Thursdays between 9 a.m. and 12 p.m.

The organization can also be contacted through the Clearwater and District Food Bank Facebook page or by emailing clearwateranddistrictfoodbank@gmail.com.

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