By David F. Rooney
She has been trying to dispel rumours about Aussies using the Community Connections Food Bank for two years now and she could well be doing the thing five years from now, but Patti Larson won’t give up — no matter what.
Recent anonymous comments on the Stoke List that claim Aussies are using the Food Bank are absolutely not true and are, in her opinion, being spread by people “who obviously don’t have the facts and just want to stir the pot,” Larson said in an interview.
“The only Aussie we’ve seen in here is a fellow who volunteered his time to us last year,” she said, adding that he did not receive any food in return for helping out.
Food Bank recipients are, without exception, all local residents with verified addresses and verified incomes. They are not transients and winter-season skiers.
“If anyone has questions about who can and cannot access the Food Bank all they have to do is call me,” she said. “But you know no one will call. People don’t realize how detrimental rumours can be.”
That anti-Aussie rumour-mongering has a real effect on the Food Bank’s campaigns for local support. Revelstokians are loathe to donate cash or groceries to the Food Bank if they think they’ll just be used to support ski bums. And that feeling could well have played a role in the 30-35 per cent decline in donations over Christmas.
The final tally for the Christmas season campaign was $28,000 in cash and 6,000 lbs of food. That sounds like a lot of food, but the Food Bank has just about run through all of that feeding the 335 local people, including 107 children who rely on the weekly hampers to feed themselves and their families.
Having said all of that, Larson said she is nonetheless pleased with the generosity of Revelstokians.
“The schools, local families and clubs were all very generous,” she said, adding that the Food Bank, which does not receive a single dime from the province, also received support from people in Prince George and Ontario who may have family connections here or “who just love our community.”