What's more credible? People who crank about the Food Bank or people who thank God it exists?

By David F. Rooney
What do you think is more credible? People who crank about the Food Bank or people who thank God it exists?
That’s not a stupid question. As the seasons segue from autumn into winter some of our local cranks inevitably start complaining about the Community Connections Food Bank. Here are a few gems that seem to surface year after year:

  • Anyone can get groceries from the Food Bank.
  • Ski bums — often described by bigots as Australians — can freely use the Food Bank.
  • There is no screening process at the Food Bank.

If you believe any of that you may want to read what Community Connections says about the Food Bank’s client-approval process:

Client Eligibility: New clients requesting food bank assistance are asked to complete an application and provide the following information:

•  Proof of residency for three months – rent receipts, hydro, or cable bill.
•  Proof of current address – rent receipts, utility bills, etc.
•  Identification – picture ID, for each adult, such as a driver’s license, BC Identification, passport or status card.
•  Proof of income – recent salary or EI stub or slip, print out from your bank or Accommodations & Allowance from Ministry of Housing & Social Development.
•  Proof of family and dependents – Recipient must provide BC Health Care Cards for each person in the household.
Please click here to learn more about the Food Bank and its service to the community.
There have even been — if you can believe it — some truly mean-spirited complaints about the Food Bank’s annual campaign to ensure that kids from poor families get some decent toys and other gifts their families would otherwise be hard-pressed to provide. Who would begrudge children a few toys at Christmas? Shockingly, this is not at all unusual. Every year there is uninformed and even malicious speculation and complaints about the Food Bank that are regularly dispelled by Patti Larson, Community Connections’ Community Outreach & Development Manager, who has managed this essential service since she helped start it 16 years ago.
Personally, I’m not nearly as nice as Patti. She would never even think what I’m quite willing to openly say about people who trash-talk an agency whose services are a godsend to hundreds of our families, friends and neighbours. But this article is not about me or the trash-talkers. It’s really about the people who rely on the Food Bank and whose heart-felt words of thanks to Patti and her dedicated volunteers are deeply appreciated, though rarely publicized.
Patti says she has probably kept every thank-you letter, card and even “the little home-madey things” people send her by way of thanks. She has squirrelled them away in a large Rubbermaid tote case and recently she shared a few of them with The Current and with Shaun Aquiline at EZ Rock.
Her’s one note sent to Patti this year:
As a mom, I never thought I would ever be in need of this service and now that I am I don’t know what we would do without it,” wrote one young mum. “We want to make sure you knew how much we appreciate everything the food bank has done for us and the difference it has made in our lives. The thoughtfulness and kindness has made me feel validated and cared for. I feel very fortunate to live in Revelstoke for so many reasons, but we are truly a richer community to have the food bank here taking care of the people that are far too often easily forgotten or not seen!
So thank you, from the bottom of our hearts.

online-letter-to-pattiAnd here’s another:

My son and I thank you for all your generous help and support.
This past year has been an absolute struggle mentally and financially. I have never accepted help before. You have all shown us comfort and security in our time of need. You gave me my dignity back. I spend most sleepless nights worrying about how to provide for us, and without your care and help, we would go without. I am so grateful. You have made our lives better. You are all brilliant light out of the dark & I wish I could show you the smiles on my son’s face on Christmas morning opening his toys and enjoying our nutritious meals. I will teach him to be as generous & amazing as (the Food Bank’s) staff is. Your help has provided this incredibly grateful mother (with) hope again.
So Many Thanks,
A Relieved Mother
You know, many, many families in our community are under tremendous stress. Imagine for a minute what the lives of the disadvantaged parents and children you know would be like if the Food Bank did not exist. It’s not a pretty image, is it?
Fortunately there are hundreds of people in an out of Revelstoke who help out when and how they can. Once in a while the gesture is spectacular — like the anonymous person who donated $10,000 to the Food Bank on Monday, November 2. But that kind of thing is very rare. More often it’s a few dollars here or there, or a $2 food voucher paid for at the tis at Cooper’s or Southside or a food drive organized by children at our local schools. Kids get it. They really, really do. I like to think that as long that remains true there’s hope for us all.
We are approaching Christmas, which is a special time of year for almost everyone in Revelstoke. You can easily help out in the weeks ahead as several businesses will be helping raise donations for the Food Bank. Some of those campaigns will be tried and true, like the CIBC’s Angel Tree Campaign or Carol Sakamoto’s annual effort to meet demand for warm woollen mitts, scarves and toques all hand knitted for kids by kind-hearted local women. Others will be new, like a winter coat campaign being sponsored by Valhalla Pure (more about that here).
We are a successful community in part because we care about everyone. Let’s keep it that way.
Here’s an audio file of Shaun Aquiline’s interview with Patti: