Laurie Gehrke and Cris Martin are excited to be partnering together this summer to help West Coast residents in need. (Photo - Andrew Bailey)

Ucluelet Co-op teams up with Food Bank on the Edge

The food bank’s Chowder Chow Down fundraiser was cancelled along with the Pacific Rim Whale Festival.

The Food Bank on the Edge Society lost its largest annual fundraiser this year, so the Ucluelet Co-op is stepping up to help replenish the society’s lost revenue this tourist season.

Beginning in April and running until October, Co-op customers will be asked if they’d like to add an additional $2 to their grocery bill to be donated to the food bank.

“We are so excited about this partnership with the food bank because the food bank makes such a massive difference in our community and that’s what the Co-op is all about; we like to make a difference in our community,” the Co-op’s general manager Laurie Gehrke told the Westerly News.

“The Food Bank is important because they help people in times of need. At some point in everyone’s lives, they’ve been in a position where they need help and our food bank is there for the people in our community when they need help.”

Gehrke noted that the food bank’s annual Chowder Chow Down fundraiser was not held this year due to the cancellation of 2019’s Pacific Rim Whale Festival.

“That’s a big loss in their regular cash flow,” she said. “By asking for a $2 donation with each transaction, we hope to substitute, or at least help replace, some of that lost income for the food bank.”

The Food Bank on the Edge Society’s executive director Cris Martin said the Chow Down accounted for roughly 30 per cent of the society’s annual fundraising total and that the new partnership with the Co-op aims to draw donations from visitors.

“Our community supports us so well, this is not about trying to get more from them. This is more about the visitor money coming in during our season and an opportunity for visitors to help us out too,” she said.

The food bank serves over 100 families each month, though that number fluctuates throughout the year as local residents are hit with unexpected medical bills and travel expenses.

“It can take any range of reasons that people end up needing some help and it’s usually temporary. We do have some clients who, because of the seasonal aspect of employment here, we might only see them during the winter months,” she said adding the community’s support has been stellar.

“It’s really gotten to be a great flow of donations and it’s all working well. We just want to keep doing it. There’s still a need, unfortunately. There’s still food insecurity here on the West Coast; we know that. But, there is a sense that we do good work here. We are very mindful of the need in our community and we take it seriously. It’s a big responsibility.”

She added that the society is focusing its fundraising efforts on building a new facility to replace its current one at Seaplane Base Field.

“Our goal is to get a new building for the food bank sometime in the future, hopefully in my lifetime,” she said adding the current building is over 30 years old and is “in a really advanced state of disrepair.”

She said the potential new facility would be built at a new location outside the tsunami inundation zone so that it could serve as a valuable community food source in an emergency.



andrew.bailey@westerlynews.ca

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READ MORE: VIDEO: Pacific Rim Whale Festival’s Chowder Chow Down winners announced in Ucluelet

READ MORE: Organizers cancel 2019 Pacific Rim Whale Festival

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