Goldstream Food Bank Society’s doors are open for anyone who’s struggling financially.
“It doesn’t matter if they’re not working, if [they’re] low-income and can barely pay the rent, or they’re barely paying any of their bills, they still come here,” volunteer Karen Birtwistle said.
A woman recently told her about not needing to come in anymore because she got a new job.
“Don’t stop coming, I said, ‘Come back again next month, don’t just get a paycheque and think OK, good, I got a paycheque.’ I mean, that’s a nice way to feel for yourself, but that paycheque might not go very far.”
She added, “Come back in and make sure you’re OK because we are here to help, and we can help right now, and we are in a position to do so.”
Birtwistle has seen more need over the years in her two decades as a volunteer. The rising cost of living in the area has been bringing more people in, she noted.
“I don’t know how people do it anymore… to get the gas in the car, to get the kids to school, anything like that, is taking all their money these days.”
President Gayle Ireland said around a hundred people come in everyday the Goldstream Food Bank Society is open. It serves the people of West Shore for three consecutive Tuesdays and Wednesdays starting the first full week of every month. People living in the West Shore can come in once a month and receive a week’s worth of food depending on the number of people in their family.
People who have moved into the area have told Birtwistle this food bank is able to give more than most. She said in recent years they have been able to provide more food thanks to the generosity of the community. This includes donations from almost all major grocery stores in the area and the local coffee shops.
The food bank is currently looking for “lots of drivers” to pick up food in the organization’s van, said Birtwistle. Volunteers would have to be able to pick up boxes of food and pack them.
Christmas and winter months are a big boon but donations slow down during springtime because there’s an assumption with the sunny weather that things are going well for people.
The food bank received a $500 cheque from someone just earlier in the day. That goes to things like gas to pick up food and certain purchases they have to make, such as “eggs, butter, cheese slices, hamburger [meat], chicken, potatoes, carrots, onions and apples,” in addition to canned soups and vegetables, Birtwistle said.
People also come in needing hygiene products like shampoos, toothbrushes and toothpaste and pet foods, which people “seem to not know about.” She added, when people receive diapers, they are also “really grateful.”
There’s a free shelf where household items and clothing can be picked up and donated, too, which is inside their location of operation, in the basement of the Royal Canadian Legion Branch 91 in Langford.