Seniors the back bone of food bank

About half of the Goldstream Food Bank clients are over 50, many volunteers are seniors as well

Gloria Driscoll is one of the 100 senior volunteers at the Goldstream Food Bank. The food bank volunteers are 99 per cent seniors.

Gloria Driscoll is one of the 100 senior volunteers at the Goldstream Food Bank. The food bank volunteers are 99 per cent seniors.

There is no dinging bell as a white ticket is placed in a pass-through window with food orders on it.

It’s not for a table of four, but a food hamper for four.

The Legion basement is bustling with volunteers and hungry people on the first Tuesday afternoon of October.

The Goldstream Food Bank operates fully on volunteers.

“We have 110 volunteers and probably 100 of them are seniors or retired,” said food bank president Gayle Ireland.

It runs on the generosity of seniors and Ireland said that’s a system that is working.

“All young people are busy paying rents and mortgages and they don’t have the time to donate,” Ireland said. “Whenever our volunteers get too old to help out, new ones are always coming.”

For nearly 15 years Gloria Driscoll has spent her days at the food bank. Lifting heavy boxes loaded with food into shopping carts or cradling three days worth of eggs, margarine and cheese in her arms as she walks. Driscoll is always moving.

“It’s a worth while thing to do, the food bank is something that we need,” Driscoll said. “I’ve always wanted to help and this teaches me the need. If there is no one here to pack up the food, there would be no one getting it.”

Over the years Driscoll has seen the clientele change. When she first began volunteering “it was mostly just needy people in low-income housing, but now it’s people who are working but they have to choose between rent and food.”

For the past five years Roy MacDonald has been helping at the food bank. “My wife brought me here,” he said.

Even though the majority of volunteers are seniors, MacDonald said it’s an ideal volunteering situation for retired folks.

“(Younger people) all have jobs or they are in the navy,” he said. “But I love it.”

Young Paek, 57, has always wanted to volunteer at the food bank and now she is retired and able to do it.

“When I was younger I wanted to do it, and now that I don’t have a business and the kids aren’t around I can,” she said while scooping kitty litter to put in the hampers of cat owners.

Even though all of the volunteers are there to help others, they enjoy the other volunteers and the community it creates.

“Just when you stop working for yourself, you start working for others,” said Audrey Van Bruchem. “Seniors have a little more flexibility with time and can be here when the food bank is open.”

The Goldstream Food Bank is always accepting new volunteers. For more information on volunteering or donating food call 250-474-4443.

 

All grocery stores on the West Shore also offer bins for non-perishable items to dropped off at.