Donations through the holiday season last much of the year for the charity

Surrey Food Bank executive director Feezah Jaffer at the organization’s new home in Newton. (File photo: Tom Zillich)

The Surrey Food Bank is getting creative this holiday season as it’s expected the pandemic will mean a drop in critical donations.

“Holidays are our busiest times (for donations), and we’re not where we were last year,” said Feezah Jaffer, the charity’s executive director.

“We’re quite concerned about the donations that will be coming in through the holiday and that’s what lasts us through the year. So the donations we get during this time are critical. Last year our goal was half a million dollars and half a million pounds of food. Last year we exceeded the goal but this year’s it’s anybody’s guess.”

Anticipating a drop due to COVID-19, Jaffer said the food bank staff have been doing some “out of the box thinking” to raise funds.

“So we’re going to be doing a text-to-donate campaign, an advent calendar campaign, and a lot of our supporters are doing virtual events instead of parties or galas or parades, things like that,” she said.

READ MORE: Surrey Food Bank opens huge new ‘forever home’ in Newton

Jaffer said the food bank saw a spike in clients at the beginning of the pandemic in the spring, with the number of clients surging to 12,000 to 13,000.

While numbers dropped a bit when government supports like CERB kicked in, she anticipates another surge in the new year.

“With CERB (Canada Emergency Response Benefit) done and people transitioning to EI, we’re seeing a bit of an uptick again,” Jaffer said. “But I think it’s going to be a couple months until we see the fallout economically. We’re expecting another surge in January and February.”

But Jaffer is encouraged thus far, with many organizations and regular donors are finding creative ways to hold virtual or drive-thru fundraisers, in light of the current restrictions related to the pandemic.

“So there’s the uncertainty, but there’s also certainty in the support we are seeing from the community.”

Jaffer noted the food bank has reverted back to doing pre-built hampers in light of the recent spike in COVID-19 cases.

“Everybody please, be safe,” she urged. “If you need the food bank, please call our offices and make an appointment. If you’re sick please do not come – we have a third-party pick up option. If you’d like to donate, online is best right now.”


This article was originally written by Amy Reid for the Surrey Now-Leader