The North Delta Lions Club recently presented the Surrey Food Bank with a donation of $2,000.
It was one of many local charitable donations the service club made in recent weeks using the proceeds of its community gaming grant from the B.C. government, including $1,000 for the Orphaned Wildlife Rehabilitation Society, $3,000 for Delta Hospital, $1,000 for the Delta Hospice Society and $5,000 in scholarships for North Delta high school students.
Lions members Nicholle Dhaliwal and Shannon Nilson were given a tour of the Food Bank, which also services North Delta, before presenting executive director Feezah Jaffer with a cheque for $2,000. Both Dhaliwal and Nilson said the experience was emotional and something of an eye opener to the need that exists in the community.
“It was just really overwhelming when I first came in,” Dhaliwal said. “Honestly, I felt like I was going to be in tears.”
“I don’t think when you put things in the bin, you know at Safeway and stuff, you don’t really get the whole idea about what it is,” Nilson added. “I also think we have an impression that it’s for people that are completely unemployed. [Jaffer] was explaining to me this is the working, minimum wage, two jobs ‘poor.’ We call it poor, but that’s what we used to consider middle class. So there seems to be a gap somewhere.”
Jaffer said the face of food bank users has changed over the years and now includes the working poor, seniors, new immigrants and others.
“That’s what we say a lot: it’s people like you,” Jaffer said. “It could be the person sitting next to you on the bus, it could be the kid that sits next you in class, it could be the person next to you at Old Navy waiting to buy a shirt. You don’t know.”
“I always say, you have your education, you have a job, you have family support, [and] you have your health. You lose one of those things and you have the possibility of standing in that lineup. It could happen to anybody. So that’s why we do what we do, is to help our community through those though times and those challenges.”
Jaffer said the Lions Club’s donation will go towards purchasing much-needed items such as canned fish and meat, fresh produce and baby formula, adding the money will stretch a lot further than if the Lions had donated $2,000 in groceries as the food bank can buy items in bulk.
Which is good, as the summer months are tend to be lean times for many food bank customers.
“The biggest thing I realized when talking to [Jaffer] was that … it’s summer time, there are no school programs to feed these babies, there’s nothing out there to feed the parents,” Nilson said. “We’ve got three months where there’s nothing, no more Christmas hampers, and these kids don’t have the school supplements. And as [Jaffer] said, 41 per cent [of food bank customers] are children.”
Anyone looking to donate to the Surrey Food Bank can do so by visiting surreyfoodbank.org/donate, or by dropping off food donations at bins located throughout the community. The food bank is particularly in need of baby formula, protein items (canned fish or meat), rice, pasta and sauce, and canned vegetables and fruits.