Alberni food bank drive falls short

Alberni residents donated food last fall on the assumption that Shaw Communications and Campbell's Company of Canada would match its weight with a donation of its own. It didn't work like that though and the local food bank got less than half of what was expected.

Volunteers help unload five Shaw Cable  truckloads of food at the community food bank last November.

Volunteers help unload five Shaw Cable truckloads of food at the community food bank last November.

Donations to the community food bank by Shaw Communications and the Campbell’s Company of Canada were less than expected.

And company officials are saying the explanation is in the fine print.

Announced last September, ‘Fill the Food Banks’ was a Canada-wide partnership between Shaw Communications and the Campbell’s Company of Canada.

Local businesses and citizens would donate food to the Salvation Army’s community food bank and Shaw and Campbell’s were to match the weight of the donation.

The initiative was timely for the Alberni Valley, as increased need and emptying food stores was pushing the food bank to the brink of being overwhelmed.

Shaw and Campbell’s came through with their donations in January, but it didn’t amount to half the weight of local donations like everyone thought it would.

“It was significantly less than we were expecting,” Salvation Army Captain Neill Wilkinson said.

Wilkinson wouldn’t disclose by how much Shaw and Campbell’s fell short.

“We don’t want to come across as ungrateful because we appreciate whatever donations we get,” he said.

Port Alberni residents donated 5,000 pounds of food to the food bank, national Shaw spokesperson Chris Kucharski said.

“But you won’t see an exact match-for-match donation,” he added.

According to provisions set out in the initiative, Shaw and Campbell’s were going to donate half the weight of food donated “up to a maximum of 650,000 pounds nationally,” Kucharski said.

Shaw donated 900 pounds of food and $700 to Port Alberni’s food bank.

Campbell’s donated its share as well.

“Campbell Canada matched 300,000 pounds of donations (nationally) as a part of our annual commitment to food banks across the country,” spokesperson Melanie Rockliff said.

“Our donations were made to Food Banks Canada and then distributed to food banks across Canada.”

According to its website, Food Banks Canada distributes donations nationally using the national food sharing system.

The agency sends its donations to a single provincial centre.

The centre in turn divvies the food up and sends it to satellite food banks based on the number of people being served by food banks in that province.

Calls to Food Banks Canada weren’t returned by deadline.

Local realtor Dave Koszegi donated his amount of weight in the form of cans of soup to the cause.

“I knew they (Shaw and Campbell’s) would match donations but only to a point,” he said.

“Whatever exceeded that cap wouldn’t be matched.”

The project could pan out more depending on how the food bank uses $700.

“Dollar per pound can be high,” Koszegi said.

reporter@albernivalleynews.com