It’s no surprise Hunger Awareness Day represents a busy time for the Food Bank Society of Whitehorse.
Only 90 minutes into its first distribution day of the month, about 30 hampers were handed out. June 1 was the busiest day volunteers will see in a while because users can only pick up one hamper per month and they usually stop by on the first day, said Tiffanie Tasane, the food bank’s on-call manager.
Hunger Awareness Day, which took place Tuesday, is a reminder about how many people are in need of food banks across the country.
“It’s a campaign to raise awareness about Canadians and the need for food security,” Tasane said.
Last year, 800,000 people in Canada were assisted by these resources, an 18 per cent increase from the previous year, according to the event’s website. This is the biggest year-to-year increase on record.
In May, the Whitehorse food bank gave out 465 hampers, serving 1,018 of their 2,300 users. Many of the clients are “not necessarily the demographic that we think it is who use these food banks,” said Tasane.
Although there are many homeless people who take advantage of the food bank, it also serves seniors on fixed incomes, students, families and people who come to Whitehorse seasonally, but have not yet found work or accommodations.
“We were running low and we normally have a lot of support when we don’t have money,” said Tiffany Hall who is living at a campground with her boyfriend. They picked up food for themselves as well as Hall’s unborn baby.
“We actually got a lot more than we thought we were getting,” she added.
Although it was their first day at the food bank, others are frequent users.
After being evacuated from his hotel when it reopened for tourists, Cody Kelly comes often.
“I get some food in my stomach and I’m proud and happy of that,” Kelly said.
Tuesday’s event also promoted ways the public can help with Whitehorse’s hunger problem.
The food bank recently began the Plant a Row, Grow a Row project that encourages gardeners to sow some extra seeds or donate some crops. Though it’s early in the season, some gardeners have already expressed interest, said Tasane.
Volunteering is also another way the organization hopes to get people involved.
It is already completely volunteer-run, except for the executive director position.
“It’s a pretty amazing operation to be a total volunteer organization,” said Tasane.
Many volunteers see the Whitehorse food bank as a way to get involved in the community.
“You’re helping people that you pass on the street, you’re helping young people,” said Jessica Steinbach, who had her first day of volunteering June 1. “I wanted to get involved with volunteering and I’m also a firm believer in not just existing in the world but also giving back.”
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