Community provider now needs providing for
By Aaron Guillen, Staff Reporter
In 2011–12 hunger was an excruciating reality for roughly 1 in 10 BC homes, or around half a million citizens, according to a study from the University of Toronto and BC’s Provincial Health Services Authority, as reported in the Vancouver Sun.
According to Food Banks Canada, 13 per cent of Canadians live in a state of food insecurity. Whether it be money issues or location-based (the Northern regions cost much more due to accessibility), getting nutritious food is a tough journey.
Being in a city with rising grocery prices, it’s tough to feed oneself or family on a tight budget. That’s where the Greater Vancouver Food Bank (GVFB) steps in. For those who truly have nowhere else to turn, the GVFB is there to lend a helping hand. With more than 25,000 mouths to feed on an average week, the GVFB, open since 1982, provides over 4-million pounds of food every year to residents in New Westminster, Burnaby, Vancouver, and the North Shore. Unfortunately, while the demand might be rising, the supply is rapidly declining.
“Our shelves are now at a critical level,” Ariela Friedmann, communications director of the GVFB told MetroNews.
“We have never, ever seen them so low. [It’s almost] to the point where we are actually planning over this next month to be spending $150,000 (from the budget) to buy canned food, peanut butter, and fresh produce, so we can give people a meal.”
In a recent effort to boost shelf stock, the GVFB reached out to the community in a one-day blitz campaign drive, hanging 38,000 bags on doors. While they did receive 42,000 pounds of food, it fell short of their goal of 100,000 pounds, and paled in comparison to the 450,000 pounds collected by volunteers at the Calgary Food Drive in mid-September.
With Hunger Awareness Week having just concluded (September 19–23), the need for donations couldn’t more urgent. While the food bank had expected low amounts of food to trickle in during the summer months, they had never expected such low numbers come fall—and to make matters worse, the GVFB isn’t getting what they need, nutritionally.
“We don’t need more candy and more cookies, we need healthy, nutritious food,” Friedmann said to Burnaby Now.
“We can’t give somebody a box of cereal and a bag of pasta. You can’t make a meal with that. So, if we’re going to give somebody some pasta we need to provide some sauce, some vegetables, some protein […] enough that they can make a meal out of and sustain themselves for a few days.”
To top it all off, the New Westminster branch has been given six months to find a new home, due to redevelopment claims.
“Hunger doesn’t end—it’s [happening] every day,” Friedmann said to MetroNews.