By Frank Bucholtz/Special to Aldergrove Star
Food banks all across Canada are experiencing more demand for their services, and the Aldergrove Food Bank operated by Sources is no exception.
Sources, which operates a food bank in Langley and another one in White Rock/South Surrey, set up an Aldergrove satellite operation this past spring.
It currently serves about 70 clients. The Langley operation, which is based at 20445 62nd Ave., serves close to 1,000.
Sources has operated a food bank in Langley for the past seven years and has seen demand grow at a steady pace. However, the steep rise in grocery prices and the pressures of inflation have made many people far more vulnerable.
The food bank is one of the places where that vulnerability quickly become apparent.
Among the vulnerable is Keith, an Aldergrove resident who visited the food bank last week. The Aldergrove Food Bank does grocery distribution each Thursday from 1 to 3 p.m. at the Langley Meals on Wheels facility, at 2900 272nd St.
Keith is currently living in subsidized housing in Aldergrove, and that has made his life much more stable. He moved to B.C. in 2013 from Winnipeg, shortly after losing both of his parents. He had very little money, as there was no estate to speak of.
He was homeless for several months, living in his van during cold winter polar vortex weather. He had to run his van frequently while parked, to keep some heat in the vehicle.
He has had a variety of accommodations through the years, but they were not always as promised by the landlords.
In one case, he moved into a basement suite only to be given the boot because the existing tenant was not allowed to have anyone else living there. Bylaw enforcement also forces people out onto the street, he said.
Keith has held down a number of jobs, but is not working at present.
He is quite philosophical about all the situations he has encountered. He said the “financial economy” is quite distant from the real world that most people are living in, and this is putting the squeeze on people with lower incomes.
“Central bank policies are hurting people,” he insisted.
In his case, housing instability has taken a toll. He said he is “just barely getting by,” but he cannot afford to fix his van and his food supply is minimal. That’s why he is a regular visitor to the food bank.
His story is far too typical, said Sources food bank manager Jaye Murray.
Many people cannot afford food because their incomes have been squeezed by higher rents and higher prices for essential day-to-day items they need to live. Food becomes something they simply cannot afford.
She said the Aldergrove Food Bank was set up so that people who live in Aldergrove and surrounding area do not have to travel into the western portion of Langley to get food. Registered clients can come each week.
While The Star was visiting on Thursday (Nov. 10), one client of the Langley Food Bank registered with the Aldergrove, because it is much closer to his home, said Murray.
This happens virtually every week, and there is also a steady stream of people coming in who have not used either food bank before.
On most Thursdays, about two-thirds of those who have registered show up. They range from seniors to young families with small children.
Most often, the Aldergrove food distribution is handled by Sources staff members, assisted by volunteers from Meals on Wheels, whose building the food bank uses.
Volunteers who would like to help on a regular basis at the Aldergrove location would be welcomed, said Murray, who invited those interested to call her at 604-541-4833.
Donations to the food bank are also much appreciated. Cash donations are best, as that allows Sources to buy food that is in particular demand, but donations of food items are always welcome.
The flow of donations has not been strong, which is a possible reflection on how inflation has also put the squeeze on donors.
Murray thanked high school students who recently donated through a Halloween For Hunger program at some schools in October. A Thanksgiving food drive in September also helped to stock the shelves.
Clients get food from the four basic food groups when they visit. Meats and other perishables are included, thanks to the generosity of grocery stores that donate items to the food bank and the modern refrigeration and cooling system that Meals on Wheels has in place in the building.
Formula and size 5 and 6 diapers are available for families with children.
“We will be doing our holiday distribution during Christmas week this year. We often do it the week before. But, to ensure we have all the items, it will take place Dec. 20 to 22 in Langley and Dec. 22 in Aldergrove. We have our Healthy Choice list (see https://sourcesfoundation.ca/2021/12/sources-food-banks-share-their-holiday-wish-list/), which are the items we like to receive. For the holidays, we are also accepting coffee, tea, sugar, special chocolates as well as non-food items such as shampoo and toothbrushes,” Murray shared.
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