SURREY - One year shy of celebrating its 30-year anniversary, Surrey Food Bank is facing a milestone it never hoped to reach: running out of its Christmas stock earlier than ever before.
Having run out of supplies gathered during the previous Christmas in early June, the food bank has since resorted to dipping into funds allocated for purchasing food much sooner than anticipated.
According to Surrey Food Bank executive director Marilyn Herrmann, it's simply a sign of the times.
"Here in Surrey, our numbers haven't necessarily increased, but what's happened is that people are needing us more, so instead of coming once a month or every few months, they're coming more frequently," she said. "Normally we've been able to make our stocks last until August."
It's a problem being felt province-wide, she added.
"I'm also the president of Food Banks BC and what I'm hearing from food banks all around the province is that everyone is in the same boat," she said. "Our numbers have all increased or stayed very, very steady, and for some reason we're all scraping to meet the demand."
As for those using the food banks in Surrey, Herrmann said the demographics have remained fairly consistent over the past couple of years, with a few exceptions.
"Provincially, about 30 per cent of most food banks have children and babies as clients," she said. "In Surrey, we're up to 41 per cent but we also have a very (large) population of new immigrants and refugees.
"We're also seeing a rise in the number of seniors needing help."
Typically, Surrey Food Bank serves between 250 to 320 families per day at its four locations.
And so, in light of the sooner-than-expected food shortage, Herrmann is hoping the community might start thinking about making their Christmas donations a bit earlier this year.
"In particular, any sort of canned protein and cash always helps us immensely," she said. "Cash helps us purchase things like the $10,000 in baby formula that we buy every six to eight weeks."
To donate to Surrey Food Bank, or for more information, go to www.surreyfoodbank.org.