British Columbia

No more classes, no more school meals: Food banks plead for donations as summer kicks off

Classes are out in B.C. for the summer — and that means an end to school breakfast and lunch programs for children in need.

Peanut butter is a good item to donate — popular with kids and a good source of protein

Donations to food banks plummet during the summer months, says director of the Mustard Seed in Victoria. (Ben Stansall/AFP/Getty)

Classes are out for the summer — and that means an end to school breakfast and lunch programs for children in need.

Food banks are putting out the call for more donations in preparation for being stretched thin during the upcoming months.

"We see an increase in need and families coming through our doors and, every summer, we see a decrease in the donations coming in," said Derek Pace, the interim executive director of the Mustard Seed food bank in Victoria.

He said the winter months, especially during the Christmas season, see a spike in donations but the summer gets "lost in the shuffle" of families going on vacation and enjoying time off.

Donations sometimes drop as much as 64 per cent during the summer, Pace told Jason D'Souza, the host of CBC's All Points West.

And that can be very hard on families struggling to make ends meet, Pace said.

Non-perishable proteins are in high demand and spreads like peanut butter are especially popular among children, says Derek Pace. (Terry Roberts/CBC)

How to help

Roughly one in every five children in B.C. lives in poverty, a report from a youth advocacy group found last year.

Pace emphasized how far food bank donations — food or money — can go in helping families struggling with poverty.

He said items such as proteins with a long shelf life like canned fish, fruits and vegetables, soups and stews, baby food and personal hygiene supplies are particularly needed.

And for kids just out of school? Peanut butter is especially popular, he said.

"Peanut butter is a good solid protein, it's easy to use — it can be a breakfast or a lunch item," he said. "A lot of families count on and need that."

Food banks also always need volunteers, Pace said, and many have options to sponsor a family for a monthly fee.

With files from All Points West.

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