Food Banks BC is already experiencing a surge in demand across its branches throughout the province, according to executive director Laura Lansink.
And the number of people coming to them for assistance is only expected to increase.
“In our 100 food banks in B.C., we’re making daily inquiries, asking our food banks for updates on the circumstances as far as volunteers, food and funding go. They’re reporting back that the numbers are already increasing significantly,” she said.
“The numbers are already growing and they’ll keep growing, not just in this immediate moment but this will have lasting repercussions for the food banks all across our province for another year or two as we come to terms with this.”
In order to prepare, Lansink said Food Banks BC is working very closely with retail partners to fill their shelves.
“We’re dealing a lot with Save On Foods, they’ve been a great partner to us. They’re prioritizing our orders because as you know, shelves are being emptied out of our local stores and that means that food banks may not always get the food they need for the clients in their communities.”
She said as people try to protect their families and take care of their needs, food donations have decreased. She added that people who usually donate money to them are now out of jobs and simply can’t afford to help them out.
But besides struggling to fill their shelves, Lansink said they’re also struggling on the volunteer front.
“About half of our food banks in B.C. are run completely by volunteers… and these volunteers are mostly elderly people, and these are the high-risk folks who have to stay home. So we’re seeing now our operations on a skeleton basis. The food banks really have been emptied out and the staff are having to fill all roles,” she said.
“I don’t know how long they can keep that up because they’re working hard and we’re committed to staying open and being there for every community, but it’s a very challenging time right now.”
She said branches throughout the province have also implemented social distancing to keep volunteers and clients safe. She said some branches have a drive-thru service, others deliver pre-packaged hampers to clients’ cars in the parking lot, as well as home delivery.
Lansink added they’re open to food and monetary donations, as well as volunteers.
“Connect with your local food bank, give them a call and see what they need. Go down and help. If you can’t go out and volunteer, you can donate to Food Banks BC, and that money will go straight to our food banks so they can keep their doors open.”
For online donations and to locate the nearest food bank near you, visit Food Banks BC’s website.