St. Joseph’s Food Bank in Mission is facing a higher demand than ever before and the need continues to rise.
“The demand for food is going up every day,” food bank manager Sandra Cascaden said.
The food bank is currently serving over 1,800 people and 900 families— up from 1,500 people in December 2022. It’s more than double the 693 people and 342 families they served in 2019.
“On distribution day, we are lined up probably about 100 to 120 people at one time,” Cascaden said. “Sometimes the wait is an hour and a half to two hours in the lineup.”
St. Joseph’s is the lone food bank in Mission registered as a service provider with Food Banks Canada. However, they also collaborate with other local organizations such as Mission Community Services, Mission Youth House, Union Gospel Mission, Copper Hall, and Glory House – Recovery House.
Cascaden has been with St. Joseph’s for four years. She says the organization is always in need of certain items that provide nutritional value, including baby food, pasta, pancake mix, peanut butter, cereal, oatmeal and canned meat.
Despite the need for certain items, Cascaden says donations for food aren’t bad and the organization is now out of the red financially.
“We’re very fortunate we get the food in only because we don’t have the money for operating costs and stuff like that. But we’ve brought ourselves out from a deficit and we’re working our way up,” Cascaden said. “It’s not enough to pay our staff members or to build a new building — nothing like that — but we’re out from the red.”
One of the biggest current needs for the food bank is volunteer drivers on distribution days. Cascaden says long waits of over an hour for taxis have been plaguing the distribution lineups since the Fraser Valley transit strike began on March 20.
Because a number of food bank users also use public transit, Cascaden has been driving them home herself on distribution days. As a result, the food bank is seeking a few volunteers to help with driving.