Food bank volunteers at a food drive and fundraiser in May of this year.

Food bank volunteers at a food drive and fundraiser in May of this year.

Food bank looking for local fresh garden produce

As harvest season comes around, the food bank will be looking for items like apples and other fruit,

Cindy Vaast, the Lake Cowichan Food Bank food hamper and volunteer coordinator, says that even though the food bank is not struggling as much this year to provide food items to local families in need, it is on the look out for fresh produce.

“What would be great is if people have excess from their gardens,” she says. “Fresh produce is something we always have to purchase.”

As harvest season comes around, the food bank will be looking for items like apples and other fruit, but right now anything from the garden is greatly appreciated. Lettuce, kale, tomatoes, carrots, and all other produce contribute to what the food bank gives out to local residents once a month.

Vaast says there are a couple of reasons that the food bank is not struggling as much this year to provide food to families in need.

“We did receive a good shipment from Toronto and a couple of young girls have done food drives in lieu of birthday parties,” she says. As well, Curves has done a couple of fundraisers over the last couple of months.

To add to this, the Ministry of Children and Family Development, Duncan branch, recently hosted a contest where groups were challenged with building the best castle out of non-perishable food items. The winners of that contest chose to donate their items to the Lake Cowichan Food Bank.

“So we had a car load of food delivered out here,” says Vaast. “Last year we were bare bones, but this year is much better.”

However, fresh food items are hard to come by, and expensive for the food bank to purchase. At their next meeting, the food bank board of directors is looking at ways to create more awareness in the community about donating fresh produce, including advertising in the local paper.

“We have done it in previous times and a few people have donated,” she says. “A lot of times people have extra lettuce or zucchini and people love it.”

Dairy, including milk, eggs, and cheese, are other items that are costly for the food bank to purchase.

“It would be nice if we had someone to go to for dairy and eggs,” she says. “The few times we have received eggs, people just love it.”

Though the food bank is noticing less of a shortage of food items this summer, they have noticed a rise in families and individuals utilizing the resource.

“We’ve noticed a number of larger families, which we usually don’t have. People with three or four kids and stuff like that. Many of them just need an extra helping hand, and we won’t see them again, and some of them we may see again.”

Last month there were 120 people who used the food bank, which meant that volunteers prepared approximately 75 or 80 hampers.

The food bank is involved with the Summer Nights program, happening each Saturday evening in Central Park throughout the summer. Vaast says that it will be the food bank’s turn to sponsor the event on August 4, and there will be a basket for non-perishable food items. However, anyone can donate to the food bank on any night of the event.

Vaast would like to remind Cowichan Lake residents that the society does have a charity number, and that all donations are tax deductable. If you would like to donate, send a cheque to Box 1087, Lake Cowichan, VOR 2GO, care of the food bank.

The food bank operates on the second Wednesday of every month and the deadline for applications is on the afternoon of the Monday before. Applications are available at, and are submitted to, Community Services on Point Ideal Road. The next food bank day is on July 11.

For more information, call Vaast at 250-749-6239, or email cowichanlakefoodbank@gmail.com.