Kamloops Food Bank feels effects of poverty rate

By Tanya Cronin
December 14, 2015 - 4:02pm Updated: December 14, 2015 - 5:50pm

KAMLOOPS — It's hard to imagine any child in this country going hungry. But the reality is, not all youngsters are getting the proper nurtrition to keep them healthy and strong.

"It is a concern, and we do see that everyday at the food bank. We have 800 clients under the age of 5, that's not to mention children that are going to school," says Bernadette Siracky, the Executive Director of the Kamloops Food Bank.

A child advocacy report has given BC the distinction of the worst poverty rate in Canada. One in five, or 20.4 percent of children across the province are living without the basic essentials, a safe and secure place to live, and food to eat, topping the national rate. 19.9 percent of BC's poorest are right here in Kamloops.

"What some people don't understand and don't live is, there's a segment of population, children going to high school and getting jobs to purchase food for their homes, they're not going out to buy hoodies, the latest technology, they're actually buying food and we see that at the food bank. We're seeing kids delighted to get snacks they can take to school," says Siracky.

The Kamloops Food Bank knows the need first hand. Serving just over 6500 individuals last year alone, the non-profit organization is busy trying to keep up with the demand of people struggling to make ends meet. 

"We do need to look at things like affordable housing, affordable child care, minimum wage, supports for people living on disability, those are types of reasons people come to food banks," says Siracky.

Donations to the food bank are vital. Today, the Kamloops and District and Labour Council is helping to stock the shelves, delivering 144 cases of salmon, to be distributed to food banks in Kamloops, Merritt, Chase, Barriere and Clearwater. The donation is part of the 'Protein for People' program, and President Barbara Nederpel says it's the largest the labour council has ever made.

"They feed tens of thousands of people every year, we utilize unionized canaries, unionized workers as much as we can, and by buying bulk, we're able to get a deal on the most important nourishment that we can give to the food bank," says Nederpel.

The Kamloops Food Bank supports 42 different meal programs within in the School District and throughout the community. With more and more families accessing the agency, every donation helps in the fight to prevent hunger pains, keep stomachs full, and reduce what has become a crisis number of children living at or below the poverty line.

"It does offer an opportunity for businesses for corporations, schools, to model corporte social responisbility and let's support these folks in the community that we know are struggling," says Siracky.

Arts Centre plan 'B' faces opposition