While people around the world are scrambling to fill their pantries and stockpile staples in response to the COVID-19 threat, the Greater Vancouver Food Bank is calling for help.
“Food insecure people cannot afford to stockpile food, and we are here to ensure they have access to a continuous supply of it," chief operating officer Cynthia Boulter said in a statement. "We are unsure if our food industry donors will be able to continue providing us with critical donations we rely on, and we have to mitigate that risk.”
The Food Bank receives no government funding and isn't receiving any additional support from provincial or national industry bodies.
It's asking for financial contributions in case it needs to purchase more food. It's also calling on retail businsesses to donate shopping bags so that it can reduce the risk of coronavirus transmission by preparing pre-packed grocery bags.
The nonprofit organization also needs volunteers.
"In order to ensure we get pre-packed grocery bags to our clients each week, we need more volunteers now," Boulter said. "To all the employees of companies that have shut down operations such as Lululemon, Aritzia, Apple, Lush and Great Canadian Gaming, if you are healthy and want to help your community, we have a place for you to give back! Come join us on the front line."
To protect the health and safety of volunteers, the Food Bank is limiting group size to no more than 25 people at a time; has gloves for people to wear; and is maintaining strict procedures around frequent hand washing. It has ramped up sanitization procedures and is refusing entry to anyone who appears ill or should be self-isolating.
The Greater Vancouver Food Bank provides assistance to 8,500 to 9,000 people weekly through 13 locations across Vancouver, Burnaby, New Westminster, and the North Shore. One quarter of its clients are children and youth, and 22 percent are seniors. It also provides food support to approximately 80 community agencies, which in turn provide meals and snacks to tens of thousands of people each week.
The Greater Vancouver Food Bank receives, purchases and distributes approximately 4.5 million pounds of food each year.
For more information and to help, visit Greater Vancouver Food Bank.