Sunday November 13, 2022 | LANGFORD, BC
by Mary P Brooke | Island Social Trends
The Belmont Secondary School Fall Food Drive Community drop-off event was held on Thursday evening November 10. The cold weather forced volunteers indoors pretty quickly after the 4 pm start.
That was the end of the school day before a long weekend, with about 20 students from the Leadership program taking part.
They were on hand to help receive non-perishable food items for the Goldstream Food Bank from anyone in the community who would drop by.
This was on the heels of a 10-day collection period (Nov 1 to 10) where the non-perishable items were collected school-wide.
The outdoor drop-off was a COVID/flu season consideration. In previous years, items were brought indoors by community donors.
Leadership teachers Holly Hurwood and Alex Jones were on hand Thursday evening to supervise. They remarked at how online donations had not yet been set up, and hoped that would be in place by School District 62 (SD62) administration in time for the spring season food drive.
Hurwood and Jones said that, so far, the larger factors impacting food security (i.e. inflation, food supply chain impacts of COVID net-zero in China and the war in Ukraine) had not yet been discussed in class. The short 50-minute time slot is one reason for the lack of discussion so far, as classes get out and about promptly to do their activities.
Leadership students Jess Keep (Grade 12) and Sophia Venables (Grade 9) spoke to media on behalf of their group.
“Food is so important for the community and coming out of COVID it’s still such a struggle,” said Keep. “Being able to offer these kinds of things helps all of us,” she said.
There was a challenge for each home room class to collect as much food as they could (Nov 1 to 10), explained Keep.
Discussions about cost of living and inflation “totally depends on the class”, said Keep, “but it’s definitely something we should be working towards.”
Leadership has been something Keep has done since Grade 5. Food is important to everybody. It’s an easier thing to provide for the community and it makes such a big impact.
“I enjoy helping out people in need,” said Venables, who is in the leadership program for her first year at Belmont, but started in leadership in Grade 7 in middle school. “Being able to participate and help the community” is important to her. She appreciates “participating in a good role in the school.”
Leadership is for Grades 9 to 12 at Belmont, with the older students inspiring the younger grades, it was pointed out. “Sticking with it is definitely worth it in the end,” said Keep.
“Everyone in the community is struggling in some way, so always keep yourself compassionate. Everyone’s just recovering from COVID,” said Keep.
Splitting off from 10,000 Tonight:
For the past several years (notably pre-pandemic), three SD62 high schools participated in a Christmas-season food drive called 10,000 Tonight. The goal was to collect at least 10,000 items, with some competitive factors among the three schools (Belmont in Langford, Royal Bay in Colwood, and EMCS in Sooke).
10,000 Tonight was previously held in early to mid-December, riding on the giving theme of the Christmas season.
This year Belmont Secondary hoped to get ahead of the Christmas season — and not see the donations glutted into the process “all at the same time”.
The leadership team recognized that food security challenges in the general community are currently of concern, and that food security is not just an issue during the holiday season but also through the year, as explained by Keep.
The November 10 donations will be picked up by the Goldstream Food Bank later that evening. This year parents did not have to drop off donations or relocate them to the food bank (as in previous years).
Royal Bay will hold their collection event closer to Christmas break, on November 30.
Classes in SD62 run to December 16 before the 2022 winter break.
Food bank use is up:
Food security for the broader community is of concern as high inflation rates continue.
Reportedly the use of food banks is increasing across Canada.
Food banks don’t always receive the highest quality goods by donation. Most food banks top up their inventory with fresh produce and bulk-buy purchase of other goods directly from grocery stores. Personal hygiene items like shampoo and toilet paper are also suitable donation items.
Donation patterns changing:
Meanwhile, a recent Nanos Poll conducted nationally, said that about 16% of 1,000 people surveyed said they would donate less to charities this holiday season, while 11% said they don’t donate at all.
Those aged 35 to 54 were also the most likely to say they plan on donating to charities less (18.4%) while 20.9% of 18- to 34-year-olds indicated that the question wasn’t applicable or they don’t donate to charities.
People age 55+ said (in the survey) they would be donating more this year.
Cost of living:
The cost of living on Vancouver Island and across Canada has increased substantially in the past year due to inflation.
Most openly the costs increases are seen in the prices of food and grocery as well as gasoline (therefore transportation) and heating fuel.
Mortgage interest rates have also gone up due to increases in the Bank of Canada interest rates which the major banks pass on to customers. Credit card companies are also increasing their rates.
Global impacts include the supply chain interruptions resulting from the Russian invasion of Ukraine.
There are also continuing COVID-related supply chain interruptions (including zero-COVID policy in China which has slowed down production of items like batteries and computer chips that are included in many manufactured items in North America).
Last week BC Agriculture and Food Minister Lana Popham said the provincial government is working on ways to help further support families as food costs rise.
In the summer ‘nutrition coupons‘ are given out to low-income recipients for use at farmers markets.
===== ABOUT THE WRITER:
Mary P Brooke, B.Sc. has covered issues of food security and the cost of living throughout her writing career.
Ms Brooke has been reporting in detail on School District 62 (SD62) since 2014. Island Social Trends SD62 Education Archive
She is the editor and publisher of Island Social Trends, based out of Langford, BC.
Food bank donations accepted at Belmont Secondary November 10 (November 10, 2022)
Steps forward in assessing food security (October 25, 2022)
Food security on Thanksgiving weekend 2022 (October 10, 2022)
Food garden at Belmont Secondary for learning and growing (September 22, 2022)
BC consumers & farmers benefit by food coupon increase (June 5, 2022)