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Food banks supported by door to door volunteer pickup

2023 BC Thanksgiving Food Drive: pickups on Sat Sept 23

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BC Thanksgiving Food Drive is operated as a volunteer service to support food banks. [Island Social Trends]

Friday September 8, 2023 | LANGFORD, BC [Updated September 22, 2023]

by Mary P Brooke | Island Social Trends

Once a year, the BC Thanksgiving Food Drive sends out volunteers around various neighbourhoods in Greater Victoria to collect food donations at people’s homes.

In the week or so ahead of that, paper bags are distributed to the homes in the targeted areas by a team of volunteers.

On Saturday September 23, pickups will happen in the west shore area — and any other areas where you received a bag at your door.

Paper bags:

food items

Until about four or five years ago, the bags were made of plastic. Now the bags are made of paper. That allows for printing of instructions right onto the bag, said BC Thanksgiving Food Drive Provincial Media Coordinator Scott Friesen.

The bags are printed in Vancouver for use province-wide by the BC Thanksgiving Food Drive organization that has hundreds of volunteers.

Some bags remaining from last year are being re-used this year.

This year’s goal is about the same as last year’s — to collect 600,000 lb of food for distribution to food banks.

Easy process:

The success of the program can largely be attributed to the easy process of people putting food into bags at home, says Friesen. That saves a trip to the store, or buying extra at the store.

bc food drive

Also, the simplification of doing the full drive on one designated day is helpful.

Directly to the food banks:

Collected food items go directly to local food banks. In Langford, donations go to the Goldstream Food Bank. In Sooke the donations go to the Sooke Food Bank through the Sooke Lions. In Victoria this year the donations will go to Rainbow Kitchen. In Saanich the donations will go to the Shelbourne Community Kitchen. In Sidney donations go to the Sidney Food Bank.

Run by volunteers:

The program started in 2008. Each year for the last 15 years the BC Thanksgiving Food Drive a growing number of communities jumping on board, says Friesen, who has been with the program from the start. Now over 50 communities participate, he told Island Social Trends.

The number of volunteers was down during the pandemic, says one of the local coordinators, Kevin McLaughlin. But the annual activity (supported by churches) expects a return of more volunteers this year, possibly as many as 700 in the Greater Victoria area.

langford, traffic

How to donate:

Using the bag:

  • People who wish to donate can put non-perishable items into the provided bag.
  • That can include canned foods, rice, grains and pasta.
  • Place the bag at your front door by 9 am on Saturday morning , September 23.
  • Make sure the bag is visible from the street.

Financial donations can also be made to the BC Food Drive online, to help fund the bag-printing.

Thanksgiving and Christmas seasons:

The volume of food collected through this drive is intended to help supply local food banks up to the Christmas season.

Students at high schools as well as businesses and organizations in the community also do food drives closer to the Christmas holiday season.

Many volunteers & partners:

Over 700 volunteers with BC Thanksgiving Food Drive in the Greater Victoria area collect the non-perishable food items that people place outside their front doors (collection is not done inside apartment buildings).

donation, food bag, thanksgiving food drive
Place non-perishable food items into the bags, and place the bag within view of your front door on Sat Sept 23, 2023. [Island Social Trends]

At a central area, the volunteers then assemble the non-perishable food items into containers on pallets for distribution to the food banks. Some of the large containers can hold up to 800 lb in food item weight.

The organization also has a partner in Save On Foods where donation bins are made available in stores. Friesen says Save On Foods has been “the most significant and long term” retail partner where monetary donations can also be made (in addition to food items being placed in bins).

Word of mouth:

The church-based BC Thanksgiving Food Drive organization relies on word of mouth, a few posters, and the pre-delivered bags for promotion of their program. Apparently all personnel are volunteers, with no salaries paid.

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Island Social Trends has been covering news of the west shore since 2008. That started with MapleLine Magazine (2008-2010), then the weekly print Sooke Voice News (2011-2013), and followed by the weekly print/PDF West Shore Voice News (2014-2020), which then morphed into the fully online digital news-magazine Island Social Trends.

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