The Cowichan Valley Basket Society’s pantry is in good shape despite it being the slowest time of year for donations. (Sarah Simpson/Citizen)

Cowichan area food banks stocked up but donations always welcomed

The CMS Food Bank Society, which serves Cobble Hill, Mill Bay and Shawnigan Lake is combatting empty shelves.

Organizer Tracey Waite said like every other food bank, their supplies run low in the summer.

“It always goes down this time of year because people think about people at Christmas and stuff like that. We save our money that we make at Christmas and we just start buying stuff and I think most of the food banks are in the same boat.”

Waite said her group needs “Pretty much everything.”

“Canned soups, the basic stuff,” she explained. “Cereal is always a big one, toiletries are always a big one.”

Waite also noted that they do like receiving donations of fresh fruits and vegetables as it means they don’t have to go out and buy them.

The CMS Food bank serves about 350-400 patrons a month. To find more information about the resource, or to donate online please visit cmsfoodbank.ca

Meanwhile Cowichan Valley Basket Society’s pantry is in good shape despite it being the slowest time of year for donations.

Manager Colleen Fuller said some specific types of food are low in stock but others are in good supply.

“We’ve been able to keep up with the purchase of all the core stuff that goes in the hampers, which is wonderful,” Fuller said. “We still have meat, we still have dairy thanks to the generosity of all the grocery stores. Our canned goods are getting low. Things like Chunky soups are things we are low on.”

Fuller explained the food bank has a good quantity of the typical tomato soup and mushroom soup, however.

What they could use more of are things for the Basket Society’s younger patrons.

“Anything that goes in the kids’ lunches,” she said. “Often the kids go to camp or picnicking and stuff like that. Little juices, little puddings, they love those.”

With a large donation of mac and cheese recently collected, it’s the other types of boxed pasta noodles that they’re low on: spaghetti and the like.

“We could use more other pasta, rice, crackers and soup crackers,” Fuller noted. And tomato sauce to go with the noodles, she added.

Summertime never seems to have a shortage of fresh fruits and vegetables, “which is just a blessing,” Fuller said.

“We’ve got tons of fruit and vegetables coming in,” she said. “We welcome all sorts of fruit and vegetables anytime.”

What they don’t put into food hampers gets brought upstairs to the soup kitchen to feed the 200 people that rely on the meals they get there.

But all in all, they’re in pretty good shape for this time of year.

“There’s a big food drive coming up in September so people can look forward to that,” she said. “That’s only six weeks away so we’re not in bad shape. It’s wonderful.”

Donations can be dropped off between 9 a.m. and 4 p.m. at the Garden Street location in Duncan. Financial donations can be brought there or made online at www.cvbs.ca

Over at the Lake Cowichan Food Bank, Katherine Worsley said “there’s definitely less food donated this time of year,” but in general they aren’t in dire need either.

“It definitely is a crisis that there’s always someone in need and we have to be constantly aware of it. So long as there’s one person in need, there is a need to continue our food bank donations and services.”

Send “Lake Cowichan Foodbank” a message on Facebook to set up a time and place to donate.

Chemainus Harvest House Food Bank, which provides for Chemainus and Crofton, isn’t as busy in the summer, with about 85 recipients in total between the two communities, 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.

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.

For a list of Valley food banks and their contact information visit www.cvbs.ca

—With files from Don Bodger

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