Chris Riddell is in the process of filling out paperwork he feels he has no choice but to do if the Mustard Seed Street Church hopes to continue serving people in need.
For the first time in the non-profit society’s history, the executive director is taking out a collateral mortgage on the Mustard Seed’s Hope Farm Healing Centre north of Duncan, where drug addicts go to recover.
“That’s something I’d never thought I’d see,” Riddell said of mortgaging the property. “The coffers are bare. We’re doing that as a backup.”
The Mustard Seed, which also operates a food bank in Victoria, has seen the worst decline in monetary donations in six years. And since it receives no government funding, the society’s already tight $2.2-million annual operating budget may have to be further trimmed.
To make matters worse, the society has exhausted its $100,000 rainy-day fund to cover operational expenses, such as heating and lighting bills and putting gas in vans used to pick up food donations at grocery stores.
“Food-wise we’re holding our own, but at the same time you can’t take a turnip and put it in the gas tank of a vehicle and expect the trucks to run,” said Brent Palmer, Mustard Seed food bank director.
“I guess, long run, if we don’t get the finances in then we’ll seriously have to look at making cutbacks.”
Every month, the food bank feeds an average of 6,800 people a month who come from across Greater Victoria.
Times are tough for everyone. People are being more frugal with their financial donations, but Riddell hopes the community will help in the coming months, just as it did by contributing about $1 million in donations late last year.
The food bank just launched the beginning of its Christmas campaign yesterday (Oct. 13) with the third annual 48-hour Great Canadian Food Fight, a food-drive challenge that involves Halifax, Regina and Victoria.
Every dollar generated and non-perishable food item collected will help bolster the bank balance and top up the shelves.
Food Fight donations can be dropped off at all major grocery stores. For details or to donate cash online, please visit mustardseed.ca.