nicola valley foodbank

 Nicola Valley Foodbank

 Merritt’s Nicola Valley Food Bank

“For some people life has been too much. They are overwhelmed and just can’t cope any more. It could have been me. It could be you.”  Derlanda Hewton, manager.

Nicola Valley Foodbank ( some say Food Bank) in Merritt BC

In the 1990’s at the Crossroads Community Church, our community opened the Nicola Valley Foodbank.  From this small  beginning, it soon grew to fill the space it uses today. The Nicola Valley Foodbank planners designed it to supplement the diets of children, seniors, low income residents and the working poor.  Today, as when it first opened, the need is overwhelming.

nicola valley foodbank

Derlanda Hewton (left) of the Nicola Valley Foodbank

Why do people use foodbanks?

Derlanda, our Nicola Valley Food Bank manager, became involved with the foodbank by chance. She was struggling to find suitable work because of a disability.  When Work B.C. told her about a client advocate job at the foodbank, she applied and is now the manager. She knows why the food bank is so desperately needed and what causes that need. She sees it daily.

“For some”, she says “it is stress; for others, a job loss; some lose partners or children; still others can’t keep their housing.” For these people,” she says “life has been too much. They are overwhelmed and just can’t cope anymore. It could have been me. It could be you.”

Besides providing food, what else does the foodbank do?

Clients who use the foodbank often need other services too. Many times they are not even aware of the help that is available to them. The Nicola Valley foodbank educates them by putting them in touch with other agencies and services such as Work B.C., Merritt Youth and Families, the Cold Weather Shelter and Ask Wellness.

save on foods Nicola Valley foodbank

Save On Foods and the Nicola Valley Foodbank

Environmentally friendly changes coming

Of course food is the priority for the foodbank, but speaking with manager Derlanda Hewton really surprised me. Not only does the food bank distribute food to those in need, as you would expect, but it is also involved in a number of earth friendly programs to reduce food waste and increase local food security.

The zero waste initiative- No food to the garbage!

No food to the garbage is a big change in the way we use food- and one that is long overdue! The Food Bank Canada initiative plan involves many of our local food stores and farmers. They work with the Nicola Valley Food Bank to reduce waste in a big way. It works like this: the stores donate unsold, but still good, food to the foodbank. When it is not fit for humans, it will be sent to farmers for animal feed or to animal rescue shelters. If unfit for humans or animals, it will be composted and returned to the earth to improve the soil. Humans benefit, animals benefit and the earth benefits. A nice win, win, win situation for all.

Nicola Valley volunteers

Thank you to our Nicola Valley Foodbank volunteers

Long term plans

When I asked Derlanda what the long term plans for the Nicola Valley Foodbank were , she told me it depends on the type of facilities they will  have. Their ideal building would include walk in freezers, coolers, an air conditioned kitchen and an education centre. They want to teach clients how to cook unfamiliar food and how to preserve extra garden produce {canning, drying and freezing fruit and vegetables).  I think this would pair well with a community garden if one were started close by, don’t you?) Now there’s a project for a gardening group.

Does technology help?

When I asked Derlanda this question the answer was a definite, yes! Did you know the Nicola Valley Foodbank can accept donations through the square? And that you can find them on social media and on blogs? In addition,  they are also on the Farmers Market Site? They have their own website too. Here is the link: Nicola Valley Food Bank.

Volunteers- always needed; always appreciated

This summer saw 15 volunteers at our local foodback, including 3-13-year-olds. These ( both reliable and hardworking) young people pitched right in wherever they were needed! There were also 3 part time drivers, 1 summer student and a janitor. The foodbank found them through Open Door and Work B.C. The students are back in school now so if you have extra time, come volunteer.

Fundraising

In addition to volunteers, the Nicola Valley Foodbank always needs both food and money. A rumor made the rounds this summer that the foodbank didn’t need any more garden produce.  And that they just threw away the excess.  NOT TRUE. Our Nicola Valley Food Bank uses all the food it can get!  So gardeners, please know that any extra produce is definitely appreciated.

toy drive

Nicola Valley Toy Drive

Donations

Someone said that since the Nicola Valley Foodbank runs on donated food, they shouldn’t need money. Well, I saw volunteers stocking shelves with diapers, baby food, formula, feminine hygene products, laundry soap and other necessities. I know these things don’t grow in my garden! And in addition to food, how about  gas for that delivery van out back? Also the lights for the building? And not only the heat but also the rent? Yes, the foodbank needs money. They supply very basic needs.  The only “luxury” on the shelves?  Donated chocolate!  Could you go months without a piece of chocolate? Well, if you could, would you want to?

Yes, running our Nicola Valley Foodbank takes cash, serious cash. They are quiet about their need, and don’t talk about it much. But they worry.  As your blogger, I tell it like it is. They just want to keep those shelves filled. So I can say, they really need money! There are donation boxes wherever we have events in Merritt and we Merritonians are generous with food sharing. Let’s try shaking loose some spare cash too. Perhaps we could give up a chocolate bar or two and donate the money.  🙂

Why do they do it?

For the foodbank’s unpaid volunteers the job is often difficult, sad and (sometimes) frustrating. So why do they do it? “To give back to the community”, one says. “It’s knowing we can make a difference”, says another. What does Derlanda say? After all, she is the manager and sees it all. “It’s about food security for everyone in the Nicola Valley.” That, everyone, is the bottom line. We all need to eat.

Merritt Tourism

What did I learn?

My level of ignorance about our local foodbank and the work it does was appalling. Yes, I  am a senior. However I  still go to the store and choose from hundreds of food items. For example, look at my chosen breakfast. Freshly cooked oatmeal with milk and a big, juicy peach. For  lunch I have fresh salad and a tasty sandwich.  In addition to all this, I know I will have dinner tonight. So, I will enjoy my roast chicken, rice and veggies.  Despite a limited budget, I can have chocolate any time I want, if I want it. Most importantly, after my foodbank visit I now remember to count myself among the very lucky!

CONTACT US

Nicola Valley Foodbank
2026 Quilchena Ave, Merritt, BC

(250) 378-2282

Website

Facebook

Nicola Valley Foodbank

Merritt, British Columbia

 

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