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Mustard Seed sprouts hope in Victoria

Volunteer Roni Luo stacks cans of non-perishable food items at the Mustard Seed food bank on Queens Avenue. - Sharon Tiffin/News staff
Volunteer Roni Luo stacks cans of non-perishable food items at the Mustard Seed food bank on Queens Avenue.
— image credit: Sharon Tiffin/News staff

Driving through Greater Victoria, it’s hard to miss the many businesses and volunteers collecting food donations in the run-up to the Christmas season.

Many of those donations are destined for community pillar the Mustard Seed, an organization whose volunteers feed more than 7,000 people every month.

Last week, the Island Equipment Operators’ Association Truck Light Parade rolled its way through the region, and despite the wet weather, hundreds of onlookers gathered along the route to hand over non-perishable food and enjoy the show.

The outpouring of generosity is something Mustard Seed food services director Brent Palmer hopes will continue once the holiday cheer wears off.

“We need as much help as you can give,” he said. “We have gone through a tough year, but (it is) even tougher for the people that require our services.”

The Mustard Seed is still trying to recover from a point earlier this year, when food stocks dropped to a 27-year low. Even a spirit of giving windfall may not be enough to correct that, Palmer said.

“We have to make up for the months that this place was in pretty rough shape.”

Recently CFB Esquimalt announced it was canceling its annual navy lighting contest due to ongoing construction at the base. The event generally brings in a significant haul for the Mustard Seed’s coffers.

So far, food bank organizers have been able to maintain the same level of service to Victoria’s most vulnerable people.

But food drives often neglect to communicate the dire need for charitable cash donations as well. Every dollar the Mustard Seed receives can be leveraged for $3 of food.

“The cash donations are picking up, but we have a long way to go,” Palmer said.

“You can’t take a turnip and turn it into fuel for one of our trucks.”

He is now focused on providing 1,000 families with turkeys for Christmas dinner. They’re at 220 right now.

“Without the generosity of Victorians, the Mustard Seed would not exist. I give all credit to you, the public, that can make a difference in a person’s life.”

To find out how to donate cash or food, or for more information, visit mustardseed.ca or call 250-953-1575.

dpalmer@vicnews.com

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