Monday December 19, 2011

Community News

Bagging Hunger

Operation Cleanout Your Pantry coming soon to a doorstep near you

Staff/Voice photos


s it time to clean out the cupboard? Do you have food stuff sitting around that you’ll probably never use? Why not donate it to help low-income people, including many seniors in the community on fixed incomes?


The Oasis Outreach Society’s inexpensive food store in Chilliwack catering to low-income residents has been doing brisk business since opening earlier this year and products continue moving off the shelves at breakneck pace.


But every week they need to restock food items and director Kelly Fowler sends out his volunteers in the community to drop off paper bags at every third house with a note attached asking for donations. A few days later, volunteers return and in most cases the bags have food in them. So far the community has been very generous in it’s response.


“Some places have 6 out of 8 bags with food in them,” says Fowler.


Christmastime is busy for Fowler who manages day-to-day operations as well as the volunteer food drives where there are 4-6 people who circulate in the community dropping off the bags and generally they collect them on Sundays.


“We’ll be hitting virtually, every, part of Chilliwack between,” he explained to the Voice last week at the store. “It will probably take 5 or 6 months and then we’ll do a return.”


If a resident finds a bag on the door step and wants to see their food donation go to a worthy cause, they can put non-perishable items in the bag and leave it for volunteers to collect later.


Fowler says folks can also drop food off right at the store at 46191 Yale Rd., next to the old Paramount Theatre. Once there, the food is sorted and priced accordingly.


Money generated from sales goes towards paying the rent and utilities and any left over is used in their financial assistance program that helps people meet their own bills.


 Eric Hunken works 3-days a week as the only paid staff at the Oasis Outreach store.


Oasis Outreach volunteers can be identified on the street by the brown paper grocery bags with the note attached.


More about Oasis Outreach Society

The OOS has been in operation in Chilliwack since September 6, 2011. The store is membership-only and shoppers need to have a card. Membership is around 800 people. The need in the community is large and so far the society has some corporate sponsorship on-board, but can use more help. Information on who is eligible and where to obtain a card can be found on the Oasis website:





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