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Starved for donations

 Megaphone (Canada) 06 September 2019

Demand rises as supply falls at local food banks. A warm and sunny summer is welcomed by most Vancouverites, but it might be one of the many reasons that the Greater Vancouver Food Bank Society is falling on tough times. (643 Words) - By Elecia Chrunik

Megaphone_Starved for Donations

Photo: Katypang

"People are out enjoying barbecues and holidays, and it's easy to forget there are people who go hungry all year long," says the Greater Vancouver Food Bank Society's Cheryl Carline.

In Vancouver and all across Canada, food bank donations are down while demand for amenities continues to rise, and many individuals and families are finding it increasingly difficult to equip themselves with basic needs. In Vancouver, donations are down by 10 per cent while demand has surged by 10 per cent.

In order to help stock the shelves in its 33,000-square foot warehouse, the Greater Vancouver Food Bank held its annual Christmas in July a few weeks ago at the Burrard SkyTrain station, but cancelled the event in Surrey due to the decline in public contributions. At the same time, there are about 250 to 300 families that line up outside of Surrey's food bank every day, according to executive director Marilyn Herrmann. And without a cent of government funding, the food banks rely heavily on donations from the public.

Food insecurity-or the lack of funds to purchase sufficient, safe and nutritious food to meet dietary needs and food preferences for an active healthy life-affects 10 per cent of Canada's population, according to Dieticians of Canada. A report released by the association in 2005 states that "households most at risk for food insecurity include one-parent families, especially with children under the age of 13, those receiving social assistance, those who rent their dwellings and aboriginal people living off reserves."

According to a report released in March 2010 by the Federation of Canadian Municipalities, "Vancouver has the highest per cent of population with low income; the highest per cent of working poor families; and the largest and fastest growing income gap between rich and poor." Also, "welfare income was also very low in Vancouver, and Vancouver had the second highest number of households which paid more than 30 per cent of their income for rent and/or lived in inadequate housing."

More than 16,000 people make use of the Greater Vancouver Food Bank's supplies each week through the 16 depots located throughout Metro Vancouver. And there is much more aid than the stereotypical canned fruits, beans and dried pasta that most people associate with food banks. The Food Bank also purchases and hands out fresh produce, accepts and distributes baby food and formula, and focuses on whole wheat and healthy and nutritious food choices as much as possible for those in need. About $30,000 worth of food is moved every day through the depots and through partner programs.

Across Canada, numbers are just as dire. While the latest data from Food Banks Canada reports that 15 per cent more British Columbians are using food bank assistance, the numbers were up 19 per cent in Ontario and a shocking 61 per cent in Alberta from March 2008 to 2009. While the numbers might have steadied off some since the brunt of the recession hit across the country, demand continues to rise rather than fall.

Beyond giving food and amenities away, the Greater Vancouver Food Bank provides other programs that help people access nutrition, like the Downtown Eastside Community Kitchen project. The initiative provides people in low income housing with clean and accessible cooking space when normally all they would have access to is a single hot plate and limited cookware and supplies. The program also encourages people to cook communal meals together to provide social opportunities and to provide a chance to forge the kind of friendships that occur when food is shared.


Originally published by The Big Issue in Scotland. ©


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