Darcy Letkemann and Leslie Clark from Sources Langley Food Bank load up the mobile food bank for more deliveries. (Special to Langley Advance Times)

Darcy Letkemann and Leslie Clark from Sources Langley Food Bank load up the mobile food bank for more deliveries. (Special to Langley Advance Times)

CELEBRATING OUR SENIORS

SENIORS WEEK: Hunger among elders rising

Seniors make up fastest growing user group for local food banks as cost of living skyrockets

by Jim McGregor/Special to Langley Advance Times

Food Banks Canada’s HungerCount 2021 report shows that in March 2021, visits to food banks topped 1.3 million, the largest increase since the 2008 recession.

Of that total, 8.7 per cent were seniors, and half were on social assistance or disability-related supports.

Both Langley food banks have experienced similar increases, noting more and more of Langley’s seniors are struggling to cover all their mounting expenses and still put food on the table.

Jim Calamunce is the executive director of the Langley Food Bank, located at 5768 203rd St. in Langley City, spoke to the rise in local seniors in need.

“We have seen an increase in the number of seniors calling recently telling us they can no longer make it on their OAS and CPP. When they call us, we will do an interview and make sure they fit within our financial criteria to determine how much money they have left after paying their bills.”

COVID and rising prices across the board are sending more people to the food banks, Calamunce has noticed.

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“What was a comfortable retirement for many has now changed, and they find a need to come here. We also noted that some could not get here, so we have about eight or nine drivers who deliver to about 32 family units a week – to those who qualify.”

Langley Food Bank is increasing its hours of operation to better accommodate all those in need of their services, seniors included.

“We have some working poor who can’t get here during the day, and we want to be sure that if you need us we are here for you,” Calamunce said.

Langley Food Bank distributes food Mondays, Wednesdays, and Fridays from the Langley City location, and on Tuesdays from its Aldergrove site in the Freshco mall at Fraser Highway and 276th Street.

Jaye Murray is the food bank manager for Sources Langley Food Bank, located at #208 – 20445 62nd Ave., and she agrees that there is an increase in seniors at their location.

“If a senior has a need, they just have to come to us during distribution hours on Tuesdays, Wednesdays, or Thursdays. We ask for a picture ID and proof of a Langley address, and they will get help. We don’t ask for financial information because we feel if you are coming here, you need us,” said Murray.

“Since COVID our numbers have gone up 30 per cent. Cost of living, cost of food, and less COVID benefits are bringing people back who we haven’t seen for a couple of years. We are noticing a 15-per-cent increase in our costs for produce and other staples, and that reflects on our clients,” she noted.

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Sources also delivers, Murray points out.

“If the client can provide a doctor’s note regarding mobility issues, we have a mobile food bank that goes out every Tuesday in the community, and we will soon be operating out of the Hub in Aldergrove to help the seniors out that way.”

Both food banks note that many of their volunteers are seniors, and Murray and Calamunce suggest helping out is a good way to stay active and get involved in the community.

Both Langley Food Bank and Sources Langley Food Bank are always looking for donations and volunteers. For those who can help in either way, they’re encouraged to reach out: Langley Food Bank can be reached at 604-533-0671 or via email at info@langleyfoodbank.com; and for Sources, people can call 604-532-5290 or email info@sourcesbc.ca.

READ MORE: SENIORS WEEK 2022 – Langley seniors centre a hub of activity during special week

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