'People have to choose between heating or eating': Victoria food bank in need of donations
VICTORIA -- The Mustard Seed food bank in Victoria is in need of donations as demand for its services continues to rise.
The food bank relies on donations to meet its $3 million annual budget so it can help the 120 to 160 people who pass through its doors every weekday.
Mustard Seed director Janine Boice says the food bank has gone from serving about 5,000 people a month last year to as many as 5,200 individuals a month this year.
She blames the increase on inflation and population growth, saying it’s not just low-income families looking for help but more and more middle-income families are in need as well.
Boice says the Mustard Seed offers much more than just food.
“Every person that walks through the door receives a shopper, they walk with them, they build relationship, they talk about their housing needs, their employment needs, their education needs because at the Mustard Seed we believe in next steps,” said Boice.
Those next steps helped Anita Zacker when she was struggling.
“That was three years ago and then I went back to school for my social work and now I’m working here,” Zacker told CTV News.
But for every success there seems to be someone else in need of help.
“When the weather shifts, people have to choose between heating or eating and that’s the struggle, “ said Boice.
And that struggle only gets tougher at the Mustard Seed with the holiday season, when the food bank prepares 1,600 Christmas hampers.
“The demand increases and it’s daily and we just keep rolling up our sleeves and doing our job,” said Boice.
To make their job easier, the Mustard Seed is looking for donations.
“Because we’re able to purchase our needed items at wholesale cost, money is always better but we’ll take food donations or cash donations,” said Boice.
To take those donations in easier, the food bank has set up a drop-off out front of its Queens Avenue location during regular hours of operation.