Kamloops Food Bank feeding more kids
If you go strictly by the statistics, usage at the Kamloops Food Bank (KFB) has been static — a fact that seems to contradict a recent survey.
HungerCount 2012, a comprehensive report on hunger and food-bank use in Canada, reports the agencies that feed the hungry in B.C. have seen usage increase 6.6 per cent from last year to this year.
At the local food bank, however, while the general trend shows not much change, when you look at various age segments, it’s a different story.
The KFB is feeding more children ages six and younger than the provincial average, at 32 per cent of its clientele compared to a B.C. average of 29.5 per cent.
In terms of actual children, that’s 804 little mouths to feed last year, up from 782 the year before.
There are more new moms and newborns now being referred by Royal Inland Hospital staff to the food bank, said Melodie Grabner, KFB resource-development manager, noting the agency has created a baby bank to provide layettes, formula, diapers and the basics babies need.
The 19- to 25-age group “is a serious majority,” said Grabner and, of that group, at least 70 per cent, “if not higher,” are people also trying to live on a disability pension.
In the past year, the food bank has seen 253 new clients in that category.
The senior segment has seen an increase to 450 in 2011 from 409 in 2010 and 356 in 2009. Seventy-five new seniors joined the food-bank roster in the past 12 months.
Tracking the total number of clients the agency deals with reflects the overall plateauing basic statistics show.
In 2007, it saw 4,496 clients; in 2008, 5,512; in 2009, 6,771.
In 2010, the number climbed to just 6,931 and, last year, the total client list dropped to 6,810.
But, that’s not the whole story.
KFB provides food for 40 programs that also feed people. They range from breakfast and lunch programs at schools through School District 73, to church soup kitchens, Tk’emlups Indian Band, ASK Wellness Centre, the New Life Mission and churches throughout the community.
They compose a segment of hungry being fed that is not reflected in the food-bank statistics.
About one-quarter of the food collected goes to the FoodShare program, a reality made possible because the Kamloops agency is one of the few in the country that receives food from 20 stores.
The need to feed people has led to other diversification, with the Kamloops agency creating seven distinct hampers, including those for diabetics, people who require high-protein diets (this could include pregnant and nursing moms and people with serious illnesses), transient hampers with goods that have removable lids or foods that require little preparation, and family hampers to deal with singles, couples and families.
Nationally, the report details food-bank usage increasing last year in every province/territory except Alberta, Saskatchewan, Quebec, Newfoundland and Labrador and the Northwest Territories.
Manitoba saw the largest increase in usage, at 14.2 per cent. Alberta saw the largest decrease, at 8.9 per cent.
FOOD BANK FIGURES:
Kamloops Food Bank new clients, Nov. 1, 2011 to Oct. 31, 2012:
School age: 210
Young adult: 253
Adult ages 26 to 40: 340
Adults ages 41 to 60: 343