It’s Hunger Awareness Day — what does that mean in Revelstoke?
Tomorrow (Tuesday, June 1) is Hunger Awareness Day and that makes this as good a time as any to think about what it means to have people going hungry here in Revelstoke.
Hunger Awareness Day isn’t some kind of Hallmark Holiday. Visit the Community Connections Food Bank as many times as I have and you’ll swiftly discover that hunger is a real problem in our community. The numbers of people using the Food Bank have more than doubled since January 2009 when about 360 were using it. Today the number of clients hovers just under 800 and the agency and its volunteers somehow manage to feed them. Weekly, 180 people collect hampers every week — 30% of those helped b y the Food Bank are children under the age of 18.
The Food Bank has been an important feature of local life for 10 years come October and it manages to feed the hungry and needy men, women and children of Revelstoke with little or no financial assistance from government — any government.
“We did get a grant-in-aid once from the City, but that’s it,” says Patti Larson, Community Connections’ Outreach Services Manager.
Larson is the person who is most closely identified with the Food Bank. She has been involved with it since its inception in October 2000 and she thinks about it and worries about it every single day.
“We don’t get any support from the province or the federal government and we don’t get any support from the City,” she said in an interview. “That bothers me. It doesn’t feel good — it doesn’t feel right — to know that we can run a bus for free for skiers but do nothing about hunger among our own people.”
That may well be but the Food Bank is very well supported by individual citizens and by many, many members of the business community. That support is deeply appreciated by Larson.
“I see people come in with things they’d like to donate, I see the tremendous support we receive from our local business community and I am always struck by how remarkable that is,” she said. “It matters a very great deal.”
Patti Larson, Community Connections, the Food Bank’s volunteers and the many families and individuals who rely on the agency hope to raise awareness of the service’s importance through a special exhibition — the Wall of Hunger — that is on display at the Community Centre from May 31 until June 7.
The Wall of Hunger features over 50 black & white photographs, graphs and paper plates bearing poignant messages by Food Bank clients collected by Megan Shandro of Okanagan College. You can also click here to go to the Community Connections website where you can learn more about tIts Outreach Services, such as the Food Bank and associated programs. If you’d like a sneak preview of some of the images and messages on display keep scrolling…