As British Columbians face rising food prices and turn to their local food banks for support, the B.C. government announced $15 million in funding for Food Banks BC today (Aug. 24).
Sheila Malcolmson, minister of social development and poverty reduction, said at a news conference at the Greater Vancouver Food Bank (GVFB) in Burnaby that the funding will help food banks meet rising demand.
It will have a particular focus on rural and remote areas and fund rapid access to food in emergencies like wildfires.
Dan Huang-Taylor, executive director of Food Banks BC, said food banks have been under "significant strain" since 2019.
"We are seeing increases in need among certain marginalized populations, certainly, people who are on fixed incomes and, quite worryingly, a significant number of people who are both working or two-household incomes, but still needing access to food bank services," Huang-Taylor said.
"We are at the point where there have never been more food bank users in B.C., and that's in the 40-plus years that food banks have operated in the province."
He attributed much of the rise in food bank use to inflation and the rising cost of living, adding that numbers increased in the early stages of the COVID-19 pandemic, which was then compounded as a result of climate events.
"We're living in almost concurrent emergency situations, between the climate emergencies and the cost-of-living crisis," Huang-Taylor said.
Burnaby home to Greater Vancouver Food Bank
Greater Vancouver Food Bank CEO David Long said the non-profit has seen a rapid growth in need.
Its Burnaby warehouse distributed about nine million pounds of food last year, he told the NOW, registering an average of up to 900 clients each month in the last year.
The number of clients the warehouse serves has almost tripled in the last five years from 6,000 to 17,000, Long said.
The food bank has seen a 40 per cent increase of families visiting. Families that may have only previously attended the food bank once a month are now coming weekly, according to a GVFB fact sheet.
Long said clients can walk away from the Burnaby warehouse with 15 to 20 pounds of food.
He tells people: "We look like Costco, except we're free."
The Greater Vancouver Food Bank distributes out of its Burnaby warehouse at 8345 Winston St. on Fridays and Saturdays and distributes out of New Westminster at Olivet Church (613 Queens Ave.) on Thursdays.
For the most up-to-date information, you can check the organization's website.
"The public are amazing," Long said. “The support we have, we couldn't do what we do without volunteer hours and donations as well."