While out for a walk the other day, I passed a building with a sign out front that said “Cowichan Valley Basket Society.” I was curious to find out just what the “Basket Society” is, so I went inside to ask. I was told that the Cowichan Valley Basket Society provides hot soup, sandwiches, doughnuts, and coffee, Monday to Saturday, to anyone who is in need of a hot meal. As well, clients can register to receive food hampers once a month.
Like most food banks, the Cowichan Valley Basket Society is completely non-profit. It depends upon the support of people within the community. The society has some paid staff but much of the work is done by volunteers; people who give generously of their time because they believe that everyone should have enough to eat. The food distributed in the hampers comes from within the community too, in the form of food donations, monetary donations from private individuals, and corporate donations.
Sadly, the food bank is seeing an ever-increasing number of clients, many of them among the working poor. These are people who, although employed, are not earning enough money to feed themselves or their families without assistance. Tough economic times can also mean a decline in the number of donations the food bank receives. The two circumstances have combined to form a real challenge for the food bank here, and in many other communities as well.
Despite the challenges they face in providing their service, the people that I met on my visit to the Cowichan Valley Basket Society were pleasant and positive. I applaud their hard work and community spirit.
I think that, no matter where you live, you can probably stand up and applaud the work of food bank volunteers in your area. Perhaps we should think about that: We need to find a means to provide a living wage to everyone within our communities. Food banks should not be the norm.