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MLA-Minute

MLA urges all to support their local food banks this holiday season

A helping hand for others

In the crisp embrace of winter, as the nights get longer, there's a certain magic from the Christmas lights.

This year, I had the heartfelt honour of being part of the tree lighting ceremonies in both Rutland and downtown Kelowna. These events were more than just a spectacle of lights, they were a celebration of warmth and unity, a reminder that in the coldest of times, our community's spirit shines the brightest.

As each light in Rutland and downtown Kelowna flickered to life, it felt like we were weaving a tapestry of hope and togetherness, transforming the night into a canvas of joy and wonder. Participating in these ceremonies was not just an honour, but a deeply moving experience, embodying the true spirit of Christmas—a season where our light, our joy and our community shine their brightest against the dark.

However, as the festive season approaches, a shadow looms over the celebrations in Kelowna and across British Columbia. The cost-of-living crisis has escalated to a tragic scale, deeply impacting the ability of many families to meet their basic needs. The rising cost of living has had a profound effect on everyday life in Kelowna. Families that once managed comfortably are now struggling to make ends meet.

Until the provincial government responds with a stronger, private sector economy and larger paycheques, the communities of B.C. have to rally to support those in need.

The soaring prices of essentials like groceries and utilities have left many unable to afford basic necessities. This crisis is not just a statistic; it's a reality that is hitting homes hard, particularly as we enter the holiday season, a time traditionally filled with joy and abundance.

One of the most alarming indicators of this crisis is the increased reliance on our Central Okanagan Food Bank and hampers provided by organizations like the Salvation Army. These services, vital in supporting the most vulnerable in our society, are experiencing unprecedented demand. The number of individuals and families seeking assistance has skyrocketed, with many accessing these services for the first time.

The Central Okanagan Food Bank has reported a staggering 32% increase in hamper requests over the last year??. Additionally, the Central Okanagan Food Bank's Christmas hamper initiative has seen a similar 32% increase in usage since the beginning of 2023, with volunteers assembling 4,000 Christmas hampers offsite??.

These food programs are critically important, especially during the holidays. The surge in demand for food banks and hampers underscores the severity of the situation. These programs, often the last line of defence against hunger, are struggling to keep up with the increasing need.

The Salvation Army, a key player in providing these services, reports a significant rise in the number of hampers distributed this year compared to previous years with over 1,000 being required.

In response to this crisis, I urge our community to rally together in support of feeding programs. This is a time for us to show our true spirit of generosity and caring. Supporting these programs is not just about providing food; it's about giving hope and sharing the warmth of the season with those around us.

The call to action is clear: support the feeding programs through donations, volunteering, and spreading awareness. Every contribution, no matter how small, can make a big difference in someone's life. The cost-of-living crisis in Kelowna and B.C. is a tragedy that requires immediate attention and action. As we move through the holiday season, let's remember the true essence of this time – sharing, caring, and community. By supporting feeding programs and helping those in need, we can bring some light to those facing dark times.

My question to you is this:

How else can the government support those in need during this season?

I love hearing from you and read every email you send. Please email my office at [email protected] or call at 250-712-3620.

Renee Merrifield is the BC United MLA for Kelowna-Mission.

This article is written by or on behalf of an outsourced columnist and does not necessarily reflect the views of Castanet.



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About the Author

Renee Merrifield is the BC United MLA for Kelowna - Mission and the Opposition critic for Environment and Climate Change, as well as Gender, Equity and Inclusion.  She currently serves on the Select Standing Committee for Finance as well.

A long-time resident of Kelowna, Renee started, and continues to lead, many businesses from construction and development to technology. Renee is a compassionate individual who cares about others in the community, believes in giving back and helping those in need through service.

She values your feedback and conversation, and can be reached at [email protected] or 250.712.3620



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The views expressed are strictly those of the author and not necessarily those of Castanet. Castanet does not warrant the contents.

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