The prayers were being said over at the Salvation Army food bank. Their shelves always need stocking anew at the best of times, but these have been, without exaggeration, the worst of times. Then the phone rang. It was Safeway calling.
“We have seen, in the past few months, a massive increase in need,” said Salvation Army Lt. Tamara Randlesome, describing how 30 hampers in two days was not able to fill the need of local families, and “we were starting to get tight and wonder where it would come from.”
The answer to that prayer, she said, was the answering of that phone. Quesnel Safeway manager Gloria Moskalyk and first assistant manager Chris Davey had some news for them – and cash.
When customers choose to donate in the offered $2 increments at the point of purchase to Food Banks BC, that money stays in Quesnel. Over the past eight months or so, it added up to $1,280.
On top of that, Safeway also hosted a Christmas donation campaign. “We physically ask people, during the month of December, if they would like to donate to the food bank,” said Moskalyk. Did they ever. Customers (and staff) chipped in to a pot that grew to $6,830.45 altogether. When added to the $2 donation pot, it meant more than $8,000 in one hand-off.
“What we have seen, this past year, has just been extraordinary,” said Randlesome, who was gobsmacked, on behalf of the Salvation Army team, by the impact of this contribution. “We have been seeing donations in the span of months that we normally see in the span of years. But the same can be said of the need out there. We often think of poverty with an image in our heads of street-level hunger, and that is a really important part of what we do, for sure, but what’s expanding in a big, big way is the middle-class family that can’t make ends meet, the working people who have to choose between putting gas in the car to get to work, or getting groceries. We have never seen anything like these levels of need.”
The Salvation Army operates a hamper service for those people at home with too little food in the cupboard, and also a soup kitchen and church at 374 McLean Street. Those who need to discuss food are welcome, and those wishing to discuss contributions to the city’s hungry folks are all welcome to visit.