Demand soaring for Salvation Army food assistance

Federal grant is helping to meet the need

Salvation Army-run food banks along Hwy16 are already putting a federal grant to use in responding to needs arising from the COVID-19 pandemic.

Nationally, the Salvation Army received $4 million of $100 million provided by the federal government to a variety of food-providing organizations in early April with the Army’s food bank covering Smithers and Houston receiving $20,000, the one in Prince Rupert receiving just over $30,000 and the one in Terrace $25,000.

The Army’s community services director for the Bulkley Valley, Adam Marshall, welcomed the federal infusion, saying demand has increased substantially since the pandemic hit, putting people out of work.

“The challenge we’re meeting is that demand has increased, in some cases doubling or even tripling,” he said of services the Army provides in Smithers and Houston.

Before COVID-19, the Army’s take-home backpack program for vulnerable students was active in two schools amounting to an average of 57 back packs per month.

“We’re now up to 120-150 a month and now in five schools,” Marshall said.

To fill 18 backpacks each time, he puts the cost at $490.

There’s also been a dramatic increase in the Army’s community meals and soup kitchen offerings.

“From an average of 294 [offerings] we’re now at 600,” Marshall stated.

The Army has also received other grants and Marshall said community support has been reassuring.

At the current demand and activity level, Marshall estimates the federal grant will last until early June to supplement and sustain the Army’s food programs.

But while demand is up, the Army’s core of volunteers has declined because some are self-isolating and senior citizen volunteers with underlying medical conditions can no longer contribute their time.

“So now we have triple the demand but are down to one-third of our volunteers,” said Marshall.

“We know who our volunteers are and we know who may have a pre-existing condition and for their safety, we’re telling them to stay at home,” he said.

The Salvation Army’s food banks in Terrace and Prince Rupert also report an increase in demand and in activity.

As a gesture of appreciation to the staff at Mills Memorial Hospital in Terrace, one of three hospitals in the north designated as a primary COVID-19 critical care facility, the Army’s mobile kitchen makes stops to provide refreshments.

And in Prince Rupert, while the Army’s food bank has had to suspend food pick ups, it is now delivering to clients in that city and next-door Port Edward.

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

Witset writes its own cannabis law

First Nation says it is their constitutional right to govern cultivation and sale of marijuana

Police watchdog recommends charges in 2017 in-custody death of Witset man

Dale Culver was pepper-sprayed by RCMP in Prince George and died later in hospital

Town grants Chamber $20K

Chamber estimates up to $65K in lost revenue, turns to council for help

COVID-19 highlights lack of connectivity in First Nations communities

Many don’t have access required to utilize online platforms, says First Nations Technology Council

Salmon closures announced for Skeena and Nass watersheds

DFO notice expands on May 21 chinook ban throughout Skeena watershed

VIDEO: A Vancouver Island black bear takes weekend nap in eagle tree

Videos captured by Terry Eissfeldt shows the bear arriving Saturday night and sleeping in on Sunday

About 30% of B.C. students return to schools as in-class teaching restarts amid pandemic

Education minister noted that in-class instruction remains optional

Trudeau avoids questions about anti-racism protesters dispersed for Trump photo-op

Prime minister says racism is an issue Canadians must tackle at home, too

Introducing the West Coast Traveller: A voyage of the mind

Top armchair travel content for Alaska, Yukon, BC, Alberta, Washington, Oregon and California!

NDP getting COVID-19 wage subsidy ‘indirectly,’ B.C. Liberal leader says

B.C. NDP says Andrew Wilkinson is wrong about federal link

Parent, superintendent, trustee report smooth return to classrooms in B.C.

The biggest challenge is convincing families that it’s safe, some say

Skeena-Bulkley Valley MP Taylor Bachrach urges feds to compensate airline passengers

Letter to transport minister touches on Northwest B.C. tourism operators impacted by COVID-19

George Floyd asphyxiated by sustained pressure: family autopsy

Death sparked a wave of protests across the U.S. and abroad

Most Read