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This holiday season, families are relying on Food Banks. The Pemberton Food Bank is relying on you.

2023 has been a tough year for so many. The holidays are a time when we think of how we can help others.

With inflation, many are stretched to afford healthy food, and so is the Pemberton Food Bank. The Pemberton Food Bank relies heavily on donations from the community to provide healthy food for over 1,400 people in the region.

In 2020, at the height of the pandemic, the Pemberton Food Bank saw a 169% increase in new clients served. These numbers have remained high ever since. Your financial donations help us purchase fresh vegetables, meat and dairy so that everyone has access to a healthy diet.

We’ve changed the design and extended hours at the Pemberton Food Bank to provide dignified access to fresh healthy food. With the grocery store design, visitors can browse what’s available and feel empowered to make choices for them and their family. And the extended hours help eliminate line-ups. We are focused on sharing food with people of all ages and stages of life to create healthy, connected, and diverse communities. Many who seek help from the Pemberton Food Bank are working families in need of a little extra help to make ends meet. As a low-barrier service, everyone is welcomed into our space and no one is turned away without food.

And, the Pemberton Food Bank provides so much more than food. It’s a place to connect and find community. The impact can even help people stay housed. In September 2022, the Pemberton Food Bank opened the doors to a new larger space on Aster Street providing more space for community connection. In the last year, the increased conversations are the biggest thing that I’ve noticed” says Loralee Seitz, Manager of the Pemberton Food Bank. “We’ve always had food as the reason people come through the door, but it’s not the only reason they’re here,” she continues.

“I now have an office to bring someone in to talk one on one. I’m able to learn about their situation, offer support or refer them to our other services. People are also able to come in to sit and wait if it is busy. Others don’t really want food, they just come in, grab an apple and chat because that’s a part of the additional service. Having a safe, welcoming space to sit and rest is absolutely huge for these members of our community.

There are a lot of familiar faces. It’s almost like a big family around here for some people that continually use our support system,” shares Seitz. “A lot of our clients struggle as disability assistance doesn’t provide enough money to pay rent, let alone to buy food. Often there are underlying conditions or other challenges. We really want to be a place where everyone feels welcome and can grow and thrive.”

Seitz continues to describe the social connections that can form in the new, expanded Pemberton Food Bank space: “It’s grandma’s kitchen table. I feel like it’s in our culture that food always brings people together. It’s what you do when you grow up. It’s how you communicate. It’s when you talk about things that happened during your day or things to come tomorrow. Some of our clients may not have that and we’re so happy to be that table for them. We know they didn’t come all this way for an apple. We understand how huge the social component of the Food Bank is.”

As one client shared, “[The staff] never made me feel judged. [They] cheered me on during my search for employment [and] connected me with other resources.”

And last year John* came into the Pemberton Food Bank to thank the staff member Sharon for keeping him alive- yes, alive- during the bitterly cold winter months. John let Sharon know that without the Pemberton Food Bank he really did not think he would have survived the winter on his meagre income, as he had run out of all options to support himself beyond keeping a roof above his head.  Because he had food, he was also able to use his funds to purchase wood to stay warm. John no longer needs the food bank, but he still comes by to say hello to Sharon and let the staff know he is doing alright.

Pemberton Food Bank services are available on Thursdays from 10am to 2pm at 1343 Aster Street, Pemberton.

Sea to Sky Community Services is so grateful for the many businesses, organizations, and individuals who support the Pemberton Food Bank. When you donate, you’re helping to strengthen and build healthier communities throughout the Sea to Sky Corridor.

*Names have been changed to preserve privacy.