Food bank calls for donations in wake of fire

Firefighters consider blaze to be suspicious

Fire investigators are looking into the suspected arson fire at the Kamloops Food Bank Thursday night while the agency makes an appeal for donations to replenish its stocks.

Assistant fire chief Mike Adams said Friday the fire is still under investigation but it's believed to be suspicious. There's no estimate on the damage yet.

Kamloops RCMP were given a description of a non-white male with long hair carrying a red sleeping bag leaving the scene on a bike just as the fire broke out.

The fire started on an old wooden addition attached to the main cinderblock food bank building on Wilson Street at about 8 p.m. Thursday.

Food bank warehouse manager Wes Graham estimated 15,000 pounds of non-perishable food was lost in the fire.

That has left the food bank with about two days' worth of pre-made hampers to give out. By early next week, the shelves will be bare.

The agency's next major food drive is set for Sept. 22. That means donations are needed to feed the 1,200 monthly clients between now and then.

Graham said the daily donations of fresh produce and other perishables continues. But it's the staples that are needed to restock the shelves.

"It sets us back greatly. To provide the non-perishable hampers for our clients for a month, it takes quite a lot of food," he said.

"If we had to replace the food and buy it for one and a half to two months, it would probably be in excess of $20,000."

The good news is the main food bank building didn't seem to sustain any damage, other than a faint lingering odour of smoke, he said.

Likewise the food bank's truck, which was parked with the back near the addition, came out in working order.

The food bank's plight caught the heart of a nine-year-old Juniper boy whose grandmother lives near the food bank.

She called Christian Beatty's mom, Nichole Dill, on Thursday night to tell her about the fire. Dill told her son about it Friday morning and Christian took action.

"He got upset and wanted to do a food drive to help," Dill said.

"He wants to fill up the back of his dad's truck and my car."

Instead, they got a van donated by National Van, and Rogers Party Rentals is providing them a tent for shade.

They'll be set up at Juniper Market Saturday from noon to 4 p.m. and at Superstore on Monday from 1 to 4 p.m.

"This is his first time doing something this big," she said.

"He's a very giving boy. He wants to help out. He says he wants to do it because they only have enough food for three days. He doesn't want people to suffer."

Anyone who wants to help out can call Dill at 250-374-0405 or contact her on Facebook.



HOW TO DONATE

The Kamloops Food Bank is putting out a call for donations after a fire burned up its stockpiles.

Donations can be made at any Kamloops grocery store donor bins throughout the long weekend. The food bank is open again Tuesday.

The agency's list of preferred non-perishable items is: canned fish and poultry, baby food and formula, canned stew, canned chili, canned brown beans, canned vegetables and fruit, peanut butter, dry pasta, rice, canned spaghetti sauce, cereal and canned soup.

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