Brothers Mark and Guy Hogan, both volunteer in the kitchen at the Salvation Army. (Zoë Ducklow photo)

Harvest Food Bank receives $15,000 donation from Western Forest Products

Cash will help the food bank and its’ partners deliver services for at least three months

Western Forest Products donated $15,000 to Harvest Food Bank in Port Hardy as part of a $100,000 contribution the company is making to food banks in communities where they work.

The food bank’s manager Andy Cornell said the donation will keep their services funded for three months.

“It’s the single largest corporate donation we’ve received, at least since I’ve been around, and I’ve been here six years,” Cornell said. The money will help cover increased costs of delivering services during COVID-19.

Early in the pandemic, a breakfast club run by Vancouver Island Health out of the Salvation Army’s kitchen had to find a new place to serve from. It was a safety precaution to stop the spread of COVID-19, but it meant the breakfast service needed to find a new facility.

Harvest Food Bank now hosts the take-out breakfast club, a shift that comes with extra expenses of cups, stir sticks and creamers.

What used to be a sit-down lunch at the Salvation Army is now a bag lunch handed out at their back door, adding paper bags, cutlery and napkins to their grocery list.

“Those aren’t things people donate. Only cash will do,” Cornell said. The food bank also had to renovate its work space to enable social distancing.

Corporate donations are pivotal for organizations like the food bank, he added. While they receive a higher number of donations from individuals, corporate cheques tend to be larger.

For the cheque presentation on July 27, Cornell called together a dozen partners, all of whom will benefit directly from the contribution. Salvation Army volunteers stood beside health care workers from Vancouver Island Health, along with seniors care workers, crisis counsellors and mental health outreach workers.

Partners of the Harvest Food Bank in Port Hardy gathered to receive a $15,000 donation from Western Forest Products.
L-R Michael Winter, Garth Holden, Andy Cornell, Guy Hogan, Mark Hogan, Viki Korhonen, Hannah van Varseveld, Roger Briscoe, Cassidy Walkus, Tammy Minihan, Alexa Bisaillon and Cathie Wilson. Between them this group represents the Salvation Army, Gwa’sala-‘Nakwaxda’xw, Vancouver Island Health, North Island Crisis and Counselling Centre, and Better at Home. (Zoë Ducklow photo)

It was eye-opening for Western Forest Products’ regional operations manger, Roger Briscoe, who was there to present the cheque.

“I didn’t realize how much of a network there was. It’s great that there are so many organizations who will benefit. Nice to have a trusted spot like this to manage a donation of this size.”

Cornell agreed, saying, “Most people think it’s just the food bank, but it’s only about one-third of the food we get that goes out through our door. The other two-thirds goes out through partners. Until someone needs it, they don’t know what we do.”

Another unseen side effect of the COVID-19 pandemic has been the loss of key volunteers.

“A lot of our volunteers are seniors, and they had to stay away for their own safety. At the same time, the work went up. So those of us still here are run off our feet,” Cornell said.

RELATED: Food bank use soars in north Island after logging strike and COVID-19

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