Today is the first day of this year’s food for fines program.
And for the Whitehorse Food Bank Society, this could be the only hope to continue its Christmas hamper program.
Last year was the first year the food bank had Christmas hampers, said Stephen Dunbar-Edge, the society’s new executive director.
However, the hampers only happened thanks to $35,000 one-time donation from the Bob Couchman Foundation. This year, the money isn’t there, he said.
The food for fines programs allows parking violators to pay their tickets with the equivalent value in food.
And if finding the food seems too difficult, parking offenders can still feel the warm rush of charity by paying the fee, as usual, but the money will be donated.
“All donations are helpful,” says Dunbar-Edge who says in the past six-months the food bank has had an average of about 250 people a week.
Last year, the food bank was feeding about 160 people a week.
He’s seeing roughly five new families at the shelter every week.
“From an increase perspective, it’s a little shocking,” said Dunbar-Edge.
The food for fines program does two great things, he said. It brings in money and food, and it raises awareness.
But if you do pay your parking meter, you can still help, said Dunbar-Edge.
The food bank’s 500 club can be a great gift.
The club allows you to set up a monthly withdrawal from your bank account or credit card.
If 500 people become members for $20 a month, the food bank can sustain itself all year-round, he said.
Parking meter tickets received anytime between today until December 11th will be eligible for the program and donations can be accepted at city hall until December 14th.
This is the fourth year in a row Whitehorse has run the program, which donates to both the food bank and Kaushee’s Place, which is a local women’s shelter and transition home that also offers an emergency hotline.
City bylaw services says $8,000 was raised for the two charities last year: $6,000 in cash and $2,000 in food donations.