Gordon Oliver of the B.C Thanksgiving Food Drive speak about the upcoming collection as (left to right) Central Okanagan Food Bank executive director Lenetta Parry, and the mayors of Kelowna and West Kelowna, Colin Basran and Doug Findlater look on.—Image credit: Alistair Waters/Capital News

Flooding and fires put Central Okanagan food bank donations ‘way behind’

The Central Okanagan Food Bank in Kelowna has collected half as much food as normal this summer.

This summer’s floods and fires in the Central Okanagan have had a dramatic impact on donations to the local food bank.

According to Lenetta Parry, executive director of the Central Okanagan Food Bank, during a typical summer her organization collects about 200,000 pounds of food to be distributed in Kelowna and West Kelowna to those in need. But this summer, that number has plummeted to about 100,000 pounds.

And the biggest reason, according to Parry, is the recent series of local disasters.

“So this year there’s an added sense of emergency,” said Parry, announcing the seventh annual Thanksgiving Food Drive, slated to take place across B.C., including in the Central Okanagan, Sept. 11 to 16.

“As you know, this year our area has been affected by fires and flooding. So our team has been aiding evacuees, working with other food banks to make sure resources are where they’re needed and supporting local agencies in their fire and flood relief efforts.”

As a result, she said, the food bank is “way behind” in food donation collections.

As a result, instead of the usual 50,000 pounds of food that the annual B.C. Thanksgiving Food Drive collects in this area each September, a “lofty” goal of 150,000 pounds of food has been set.

“There is a real need out there,” said Gordon Oliver, spokesman for the food drive.

That message was echoed by the mayors of Kelowna and West Kelowna, who were on hand to help support the upcoming food drive.

Both Colin Basran and Doug Findlater praised the work of the local food bank, noting the staggering need and how easy it will be to donate food items during the food drive.

From Sept. 11 to 15, an army of volunteers will fan out across the two cities, and leave bags on front doors with information attached about the drive, the most needed food items and instructions about how to participate.

Residents are asked to put non-perishable food items in the bags and rehang the bags on their doors. On Sept. 16, the volunteers will return and collect the filed bags.

This year, to help people in multi-family buildings and gated communities participate, special drop-off locations will be set up at the Save-On Foods store in Orchard Plaza and at the Costco store in Kelowna, as well as at the West Kelowna Save-On Foods store in Westbank.

In addition, leading up to the Sept. 16 collection, volunteers at the Kelowna food bank’s Ellis Street depot and the West Kelowna depot on Churchill Road in Westbank will also accept donations for the Thanksgiving Food Drive.

All the food collected in each community will stay in the community where it was donated.

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