Since 1983 the non-profit work of the Comox Valley Food Bank has been sustained by a growing community of support comprised of individuals, groups, schools, clubs, businesses, farms and government agencies for donations of food, cash funds, and volunteer time to operate our program. We are also grateful for the volunteer efforts of our supporters who organize over 160 annual food drives and fundraising events annually to collect food and cash donations, and to extend of visibility in the community.
We are equally proud of our dedicated team of 35-40 core volunteers who bring a broad range of experience to assist in the delivery of our onsite operations and services. Our team of Food Bank volunteers donated 11,170 hours towards the preparation and distribution of 7,998 emergency food hampers that reached an average of 667 households per month in local community over the course of the year.
The use of our program by Comox Valley families continues to increase annually. One third of those we help are children. Expanding our community of supporters and donors is an ongoing process that is integral in meeting our program goals, addressing the ongoing challenge of increasing food costs, and in addressing the immediate basic need for food in our community.
This past fall, our food hamper program client count reach a record high of 810 people with 525 bags of food being distributed in one day. Our clients face a wide range of inadequate financial circumstances and challenges, and our statistics consistently reflect that 30% of the people we help are children.
Use of our daily drop-in service also continues to be in high demand, with 1,200 household visits per month being our current average, an increase from 1,000 households per month last year, and 800 household visits per month two years ago. Last year we saw a combined total of 1,836 household visits per month for food hampers and drop-in service (with household averaging 2 people).
It is a priority to secure donations of core hamper items whenever possible. Cash donations are greatly appreciated as this makes it possible for us to obtain the best price point and purchase bulk and case lots of items for our food hampers. We continue to strive to provide larger quantities of items in our food hampers, better quality food, fresh produce and healthy children’s snacks. This year we will focus on expanding our education outreach initiatives for an early spring promotion of our Community Grow-A-Row project. Founded in 2009, this program was a means of encouraging farms, businesses, organizations, community groups, and households to grow/and or donate fresh produce and excess seasonal harvest, so that we could provide fresh produce in our hampers as this goal would be cost prohibitive without community food donations.
As an expansion of this initiative we launched Fresh from the Heart in 2011 to encourage cash and food donations as a means of continuing to provide fresh produce in the hampers. This has met with very positive response by our clients and community of supporters and donaors and we are committed to expanding our emphasis on fresh fruits and vegetables.
Your contribution is invaluable in creating awareness and providing encouragment to others so that our community of support can be sustained and expanded to meet the basic needs of people in the Comox Valley for food.
Comox Valley Food Bank Society President