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Brown bag it for hungry families

Fundraiser to help boost stressed food bank supplies

The Squamish Food Bank is in dire need, and organizers say just one day's worth of lunch money from locals would go a long way towards feeding the town's hungry families.

The food bank announced its second annual Brown Bag It fundraiser this week, inviting locals to take a bag lunch to work any day next week (Feb. 16 to 20), and hand over the cost of eating out as a donation.

The first Brown Bag It event raised $1,400 last year, and this year organizer Susan Newman said she hopes a broader education campaign and a direct appeal to staff at all Howe Sound District schools and students at both high schools may make a difference. And hopes are that with every local bank helping out by providing drop boxes at their locations, donations are sure to increase, said Newman.

Since the food bank is not affiliated with any other agencies or charities in town, it has since its inception relied entirely on direct donations.

Newman said a $10,000 donation from Solterra Development late last year helped tremendously, but the charitable organization is still experiencing a shortfall in the face of increasing numbers lining up for the bi-monthly hand-outs.

"I'm actually getting more families," said Newman. "If we didn't get that donation from Solterra, we'd be in real trouble."

Last year, an average of more than 140 children and 260 adults utilized the service every two weeks in downtown Squamish, and Newman said she anticipates even higher numbers when the official tally is done in March.

The food bank required approximately $40,000 a year, or $3,000 a month to meet the demands from residents who can't make ends meet. And increasing demands each year result in a growing inability to meet needs.

For the second year in a row, Newman will be appealing to the District of Squamish for a $15,000 contribution.

"Ideally, we wouldn't have to ask for anything," she said.

However the funds provide only a little breathing room. Last year's $15,000 district contribution only helped the organization get out of a deficit.

That's because donations have slowed dramatically in the last few years, and the few annual fundraising endeavours the organization holds can't make up for the shortfall.

This year, along with the Brown Bag It, residents can also attend a wine and cheese tasting event at the Sea to Sky Hotel with all proceeds benefiting the food bank (see page???).

Donors can also mail a check to Box 207, Garibaldi Highlands, V0N 1T0. Newman has also offered to pick up donations in person. Simply contact Susan Newman at 604 848-4316 or susan_newman@hotmail.com. Donors giving $20 or more are eligible for a tax receipt.