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Food Bank welcomes extra community support during the Christmas season

Almost every day for the past 15 years Sue Clark has stocked the shelves of Bowen's Food Bank at the Little Red Church.

Almost every day for the past 15 years Sue Clark has stocked the shelves of Bowen's Food Bank at the Little Red Church.

"Some days I come in and its completely empty, others its half-full," says Clarke, who makes sure that toilet paper is always available, along with tins of milk.

"We need to have full meals on-hand," she says, "and once or twice a week, I put eggs and margarine out."

Every ten days or so, she goes shopping.

"Walmart is the cheapest, and sometimes I walk out of there with two carts full of food, but sometimes I also go to Save-On Foods to purchase some things."

Clarke says that in recent years, she's been spending at least $12 thousand in monetary donations per year to keep the shelves of the food bank stocked, and that amount does not include donations of canned and dried food, or soups in the food bank's freezer.

"In the time that I've been working, I've definitely seen a big increase in the level of need for this food," says Clarke. "This year we've had a number of homeless people living on Bowen, but also I have had people with young families come up to me and say the Foodbank has been a lifesaver in a time of need."

Clarke insists that the Foodbank's original mandate, to provide food in an emergency situation, remains its central purpose.

"In the city there are soup kitchens, but that wouldn't work here because the people who need food from us don't want to be known, and in small community like this, you would be just far too visible."

Island Pacific School teacher Bronwyn Churcher says the idea that people who need to use the food bank might feel stigmatized was new to the student's who were given an introduction to it by Sheilagh MacKinnon.

"We were in the church talking about ways we could help, and at first the kids thought it would be a good idea to throw a big dinner for Food Bank users. Then someone walked in, and saw all of us and then quickly walked out. I think that then they understood."

Churcher says Reverend MacKinnon's presentation also helped the kids understand how quickly the shelves could be depleted, and how a family with a limited income could find themselves struggling to put food on the table. At the end of the session, the students decided that half of them would work on cooking soup to put in the Food Bank's freezer, and the other half would collect donations of food and money for the Food Bank. This project will happen on December 18th.

Reverend MacKinnon says this time of year is particularly stark for people struggling to put food on the table, and she hopes that people will consider including special treats that might just brighten up someone's day.

"Of course we need non-perishables," says MacKinnon, "but a can of frozen orange juice can be a real luxury. I'm also happy when I see a box of chocolate on those shelves."

If you want to make a donation to the Food Bank, you can drop food off at any time of day or night on the shelves just inside the Little Red Church. You can also drop off a financial donation to Vonigo, addressed to the Food Bank.

Also, on December 13th, the Bowen Island Pub will be offering a free drink for every two cans of food for the Food Bank, with a two free-drink limit.

The Penrhyn Academy student recital, December 8th, asks for donations at the door

The Bowen Island Gym is encouraging all of its members to bring in donations at every work-out and will waive drop-in fees for non-members who donate non-perishible food items.