The rising rate of inflation is proving to be a hurdle for everyone in B.C., but none more so than charity organizations that rely on donations to help vulnerable communities.
That’s true in South Surrey, where Sources Foundation is just one of a number of food banks across the province struggling to serve the growing community that relies on them for survival.
“We have noticed a decrease in donations, both from the community and the stores. I believe that would be due to the increase in (the price of) grocery items,” Jaye Murray, program manager for White Rock and Langley Sources food bank locations, stated in an email to Peace Arch News.
Monetary donations are always preferred over food because the types of food needed varies at different times. If they receive a supply of food, there is a higher chance of it expiring and being wasted, Murray added.
“We see clients across the spectrum. Twelve per cent are seniors, 40 per cent on disability and the balance are working families unable to make ends meet due to high rents, high cost of food, low hourly wage, etc. This group continues to grow.”
Sources also provides help to homeless populations, which Murray notes is a “growing concern.” Each week, the food bank provides food bags to upwards of 24 individuals who are homeless.
With one-third consisting of children, Sources attempts to feed the 600 people in the community per week who need help in order to feed themselves or their families.
During the recent Mayor’s Food Bank Challenge, White Rock did not place as well as other cities. Ranking seven out of nine, the City raised a total of $2,650.
“We need to review why the food bank started in the first place, why are we still doing it now? Why haven’t we found a cause and solution to this problem?” White Rock Mayor Darryl Walker told Peace Arch News on May 26, as the challenge was drawing to a close.
Murray agreed, suggesting that “a guaranteed income, a livable wage, affordable housing and childcare” are some solutions that are needed in the community.Pain at the pump
Meanwhile, as the cost of gas continues to rise, Cancer Drivers Society, an organization that provides cancer patients with rides to and from their appointments, is struggling to find enough people willing to do the job.
“As we continue to grow and recruit drivers, we’re concerned that the gas prices will turn off volunteers from coming forward,” said Bob Smith, president of the board for Cancer Drivers Society.
There have been times when the organization was not able to drive clients to their appointments, although it only happens rarely, he added.
“Sometimes an appointment gets changed, last minute, and we can’t find a driver for them,” Smith explained, noting that at times, drivers, including himself, would have to drive farther to provide assistance because there are not enough volunteers covering the various locations across B.C.
Smith would like to see more drivers volunteer their time so that the increasing number of people they support can be helped.
“It’s very important that cancer patients who need assistance from an organization like us continue to reach out.”High costs a blow to charity
Meals on Wheels, which provides warm meals at low-cost – mostly to seniors – has been forced to stop paying volunteers a gas allowance now that prices for fuel have reached record highs. This has created another blow to the organization, because many people are less inclined to volunteer, not being in a position themselves to do the work without some compensation, Pat Patton of Meals on Wheels said.
Providing a friendly smile or conversation along with warm, nutritious food is what the organization strives to do with every trip. This is especially important right now because some seniors are still isolating for health reasons, while most have returned to their pre-pandemic routines.
Both Smith and Patton are finding that many people, including their drivers, are taking the opportunity to travel now that restrictions have been lifted. This is leaving a gap in available drivers.
Patton is also struggling with finding help for administrative duties at Meals on Wheels, doing the “work of four people at the moment,” because of under-staffing.
People who are interested in driving or working with Meals on Wheels, are invited to call Patton at 604-541-6325 (MEAL).
To donate to Sources Foundation, visit their website at sourcesfoundation.ca.
Those interested in volunteering or donating to Cancer Drivers Society can visit their website at www.volunteercancerdrivers.ca.