As the first day of the new school year inches closer, expenses continue to add up for parents. It is also a time of year when local food banks’ shelves are looking rather empty.
Island Savings has set its sights on addressing that need. The company’s aim is to provide 650,000 meals to Island children and families over the next three years. Their new community investment program, The Full Cupboard, looks to reduce hunger across the Island through a combination of food, funds and awareness raising activities. Every dollar raised will go directly to 11 food banks located in neighbourhoods served by Island Savings branches, including the Goldstream Food Bank.
“At this time of year, thousands of Island parents are stretched to buy new clothing and school supplies while still managing to put food on the table,” Island Savings president Randy Bertsch said in a release. “Thanks to the buying power of food banks, one dollar a day can feed a child in B.C. – and so raising funds with our members and employees through The Full Cupboard will relieve some of this immediate need for food while we develop capacity-building programs to reduce food bank dependence in the long term.”
Island Savings launched the program last week with an initial $8,800 raised through employee and member donations over the summer.
“Summer break is often the toughest part of the year for families,” added Allan Lingwood, interim executive director of The Mustard Seed in Victoria. “School-based meal programs end, parents have to address additional childcare needs and then stress over preparations for their children going back to school.”
Lingwood noted the The Mustard Seed alone sees up to a 25-per-cent increase in both food bank use and family hamper distribution as parents face competing priorities heading into September.
“Creating The Full Cupboard – working towards a reality where no Island child goes hungry – is a natural fit with the values we’ve been living out on Vancouver Island, Salt Spring and Pender since our business began,” continued Bertsch. “One in three Island food bank users is a child, a fact that our communities need to be acutely aware of if we’re going to be able to move the dial on hunger.”
Islands Savings has been working on addressing that need through its Growing Island Families Together (GIFT) program for the past six years. GIFT aims to help at-risk children across the region build self-confidence and resilience and increase engagement within their local communities. The Full Cupboard is an expansion of that program.
Until Sept. 1, Island Savings will donate $1 for every share The Full Cupboard video receives from the organization’s Facebook page (facebook.com/islandsavings). Financial donations to the program can also be made at any Island Savings branch, including in Langford at 2917 Jacklin Rd. or online at islandsavings.ca/thefullcupboard.