Despite activity on the horizon, the number of people in need is unchanged compared to last year, according to Salvation Army Capt. Gary Sheils.
“On average we’re helping between 290 and 300 families per month through the food bank, which is comparable to last year,” he said.
“The soup kitchen numbers are down slightly so far this year, but in the past month or two the canneries have been very busy and, once that ends, we expect the numbers to pick up. By the end of the year, I expect we will have served approximately 45,000 meals, which is down about 4,000 from last year.”
Although the soup kitchen numbers are on the decline, Sheils said Prince Rupert remains a community where the need for social assistance cannot be questioned.
“We are such a small town, and the Salvation Army helps one in four people with all we do. Last year we helped 2,800 people, which is almost one in four … nationally the Salvation Army helps one in 20 people,” he said, noting some difference is to be expected as larger centres have more social support agencies providing food banks, soup kitchens and Christmas hampers.
“One in four is an awfully sad figure, I think. One in 12 might be more comparable to the national figure, being the only provider in town … but one in four shows there is such a strong need in town.”