Clothing shop launches drive to fight hunger

Tulipe Noire Clothing is a small business in Victoria, but has a big drive in the works to support efforts by Food Banks Canada to alleviate hunger and “give back to the community.”

The 1887 Oak Bay Ave. store is accepting non-perishable donations between May 6 and May 12 for the Mustard Seed Food Bank. Owner Kari McLay will contribute $1 for every item donated, saying the goal is at least 1,000 items.

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The food drive ties in with national Hunger Awareness Week in May.

McLay opened Tulipe Noire eight years ago. Prior to that, she spent 15 years as a social worker. “It’s really, really important that we do something significant in terms of giving back to the community,” she said.

The need continues to grow. Last year, nearly 900,000 people were helped every month by a food bank in Canada, said the Hunger Awareness Week’s website. The Mustard Seed at 625 Queens Ave. assists more than 7,000 people every month.

Rudi Wallace, assistant Mustard Seed food bank director, said stocks typically drop in mid-June. “Right now, we could definitely use some peanut butter,” he said. Other products in demand include tuna and beans such as chick peas, Wallace said.

More than half the food bank’s clients are families, Wallace said.

Fresh vegetables and produce are also high on his wish list. “You give me a warehouse full of fresh produce and I will move it to the people who need it,” he said. Produce helps round out hampers for clients, providing healthy meals. Last year, the Mustard Seed distributed 4.1 million pounds of food.

In addition, the food bank hosts farmers markets, which sees two local farms providing food at close to wholesale prices. Mustard Seed clients receive a coupon giving them 50 per cent off the prices. The first market is June 8 at 10 a.m. and continues until the food is gone. Further markets are planned for July, August and September, usually on the second to last Saturday of each month.

At Tulipe Noire, a monthly ladies night starts May 7, from 6:30 p.m. to 8:30 p.m., and donations will be accepted. The evenings will include price reductions on merchandise, door prizes and refreshments. And anyone who brings in three or more food items during the drive will receive a coupon toward a purchase in the store.


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