Jan Aikman displays some of the empty shelves at the Chemainus Harvest House food bank in the basement of the Chemainus United Church. (photo by Don Bodger)

Chemainus Harvest House still demands attention in summer

Food bank supplies dwindle with diminished donations

The demand isn’t as high in the summer for the Chemainus Harvest House food bank, but stocks are still lower than required to keep pace.

“We like to get our shelves stocked before September when kids are back in school,” said Jan Aikman, acting chair of the food bank.

There are currently about 53 recipients from the Harvest House in Chemainus and 32 in Crofton. The numbers will go up in the winter, Aikman added, to about 80 in Chemainus and 45 in Crofton.

The food bank is located in the basement of the Chemainus United Church on Willow Street. The Crofton outlet is at the Warmland Community Church on Joan Avenue in Crofton.

The Fill The Truck fundraiser in May at the Chemainus 49th Parallel Grocery store yielded $1,688 in donations and 1,325 pounds of food.

“We came short of our goal, but we did OK,” noted Aikman.

The 49th Parallel and Island Savings Credit Union curry and beer fundraiser June 22 in support of Chemainus Harvest House at the Chemainus Legion Hall was a huge success, bringing in $6,408.

Tanisa Elerene of Crofton, who’s the general manager and chef at York St. Diner in Duncan, saw a post about empty shelves and will be putting on a food drive at the restaurant so the awareness and the willingness to help keeps growing.

“For every item donated, people get a ticket to enter a draw for a $100 gift certificate to the restaurant,” added Aikman.

Generally, it still remains difficult for food banks everywhere to get the word out and maintain donations throughout the year.

“Everybody does the big push at Christmas,” conceded Aikman. “It’s a huge time, especially if you have a family.

“Everybody’s heart is open at that time. However, people are hungry every day of the year and we have to remember that.”

Island Savings, 49th Parallel and Riot Brewing are among the many businesses striving to make a difference no matter what month it is on the calendar.

“They’re thinking of new and great ways to support us through these harder times,” Aikman indicated.

The basement at the back of the Chemainus United Church is open for cash and food donations Thursdays from 9:30 to 11:30 a.m. and Fridays from 11:30 a.m. to 1 p.m.

Donations can be made to the Crofton location at the Warmland Community Church on Mondays from 9:30 to 10:30 a.m.

It’s always amazing how items like Kraft dinner are always in large supply while other essentials go lacking.

At the low end of availability for distribution, Aikman said, are condiments, cookies, crackers, jams and jellies and all baking supplies such as sugar, flour and salt or mixes to make cakes or pastries.

Staples like canned fruit, vegetables, beans, tuna, pastas and soups are distributed on a weekly basis.

The 49th Parallel and Cowichan Green Community are keen on trying to implement Zero Waste policies, with regular deliveries made to the Harvest House and Cowichan Basket Society.

There are 30+ people directly involved with the Harvest House, all of whom are “very diligent and wonderful volunteers,” said Aikman.

John Siebring is the major pick-up guy along with his Harvest House mascot dog, Koda Bear.

One of the Harvest House’s most ardent volunteers, Sylvia Massey, had to step away due to health reasons. She’ll be honoured Sept. 10.

“We want to recognize her long-term work she has done for us,” said Aikman.

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Paul McGregor, manager of the Chemainus 49th Parallel Grocery store, unpacks boxes of items at the Chemainus Harvest House food bank during his regular weekly stop. (Photo by Don Bodger)

Jan Aikman uses some muscle power to assist with the unloading of items from the 49th Parallel Grocery Store van at the Chemainus Harvest House food bank. (Photo by Don Bodger)

Paul McGregor, manager of the Chemainus 49th Parallel Grocery store, packs carton of milk into the Chemainus Harvest House food bank. (Photo by Don Bodger)

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