It began with handing out bread, and now Chad Hooker and his wife Tanya are in their seventh year of assisting the Black Creek community with food for those in need.
Chad and Tanya are executive directors, founders and developers of the Black Creek Bread of Life Food Bank, an organization that serves more than 300 people, from north of Courtenay Country Market to south of York Road.
“We realized there really is a need,” explained Chad. “There’s a massive pocket in the area and every week there is a different group of people (using the food bank).”
He explained the area is “more than just farmland,” and houses many single pensioners and children who don’t have the transportation or ability to access the Comox Valley Food Bank located in Courtenay.
He added many people have bikes or walk, so they have begun handing out high-vis vests for those using the food bank.
The food bank had been operating out of Living Waters Fellowship on Regent Road, but has outgrown the space. It’s now operating out of the Black Creek United Mennonite Church at 2277 Enns Rd. for the winter months.
They are in the process of securing their own permanent location for a Black Creek community outreach centre.
Chad said over the years, they are slowly building community partners, and have seen the food bank grow as the Black Creek community and surrounding areas have gotten behind it.
Right now, they hand out food once a week, but have been approved as an official B.C. food bank beginning in January, which will allow the organization to apply for charitable societal status.
Once a permanent location has been secured, the couple hopes to have the food bank open two or three times a week.
Last weekend, the Oyster River Volunteer Fire Rescue ran an annual fundraiser, partnering with the Black Creek Bread of Life Food Bank for its fourth year – the main source of funds and food for their hamper program. A variety of other organizations, including Discovery Foods and Miracle Beach Elementary School, collected food.
Chad explained their main source of food donations throughout the year comes from Thrifty Foods, various community members and businesses such as Eats & Treats in Merville, who drop off donations, along with churches that donate food.
Coastal Black Winery donates space in its freezer to allow storage of dairy products and desserts for the Christmas hamper program, while Tim Hortons supplies coffee and Timbits for volunteers.
Chad estimates the food bank will distribute between 60 to 75 hampers, and noted they cross-check with other organizations to ensure there is no crossover between hamper programs.
For more information or to donate to the food bank, contact Hooker at 250-218-0681, email firstname.lastname@example.org or visit the Bread of Life Food Bank Facebook page.