Volunteer Mike Murphy regularly helps out at the Salvation Army thrift store in Houston.

Volunteer Mike Murphy regularly helps out at the Salvation Army thrift store in Houston.

Salvation Army short on food donations

Storage closets at the Houston food bank are running low.

Storage closets at the Houston food bank are running low.

The Salvation Army provides food to people in need by appointment. They give canned meat, vegetables, beans, pasta, pasta sauce, noodles, cereal, juice to people as best as they can, but a seasonal problem has come back to affect them.

“We don’t have a lot of space, so we always have a small amount of food that we cache on site at any given time,” said director Rick Apperson. “Summertime is always rough. Donations are always down. And so, correspondingly our shelves are a bit more empty in Houston right now.”

Apperson said June, July and August pan out as the worst months for donations and he can only guess at the reasons. He says it could be because people are travelling or it is just not on the forefront of peoples’ minds in the summer.

As a result of the shortfall in donations, the food bank gets squeezed for resources when they have an unplanned visitor.

“We haven’t turned them away. We are giving them a little less food because we haven’t had as much food in stock,” Apperson said. “We pool a lot of food ourselves, and we also bring some food from Smithers that we have.”

The summertime shortfall affects all B.C. food banks, but certain communities suffer more as their school breakfast, lunch and snack programs shut down in the summer, adding stress to the household.

“A third of the people in B.C. who are using food banks are children and we all feel that very keenly when we realize that it’s a child that could go hungry,” Food Banks BC director Lansink said.

Like Apperson, Lansink believes that summertime holidaymakers forget about food banks as they enjoy their vacations.

And in the eight years Apperson has worked in his capacity, he has tried ameliorate the problem by making people more aware, and he has seen slight results through his word-of-mouth efforts.

“During the winter time when people do food drives and they ask how things are going, we always say summer is when we actually have the least amount of donations,” Apperson said.

Apperson mentioned that when he first came, the food bank would buy five months’ worth of supplies, but this year he noticed that they’re only buying three months’ worth.

The community can help Salvation Army by donating non-perishable food items to stock their shelves.