With $10 million given to Food Banks BC, the question is, “Will any of those funds come the Trail and Greater Area to help those in need?”
The Trail Times contacted Laura Lansink, executive director for Food Banks BC, following the province’s news that $10 million would be invested to help the organization’s 100 food banks “receive, store and distribute fresh, healthy food to those in need.”
Specifically, $6.5 million will be directed into transporting food from farms, grocery stores and restaurants and $3.5 million for refrigeration to store and distribute the food.
While she didn’t provide a monetary number, Lansink said Food Banks BC’s 100 members are encouraged to share bounty with everyone, “it’s not about the food banks, it’s about helping the whole community.”
How it works, is that Food Banks BC has only one member per city – in Trail it’s the Salvation Army Food Bank located on Rossland Avenue.
“This isn’t just about giving everyone a fridge and freezer,” Lansink said. “This money is very much linked to the food recovery aspect and we are going to encourage our food banks to think carefully about this.”
She was referring to the large amount of food waste throughout the province, no matter the size of city.
Food banks must adapt food recovery thinking to their own community, she shared.
“I am hoping we can build on capacity (with this funding),” said Lansink. “Not just with a bigger fridge or freezer, but that they really can make sure that no food is being wasted in the community.”
As food bank lines continue to grow in Trail, the two existing pantries struggle to meet demand. The Trail Salvation Army distributes hundreds of monthly hampers to families and individuals and a thousand-plus meals from its soup kitchen – the food services manager says more and more of those patrons are children. Volunteers at the Trail United Church food bank, which runs three Tuesdays each month, report an increasing number of families coming in to pick up staples like bread, potatoes and canned goods.
A third Trail food bank is now closed. In 2016, St. Andrew’s Anglican Church could no longer afford to distribute groceries one Tuesday-a-month, instead volunteers opted for a monthly “Coffee Stop,” or sitdown with a beverage and baking plate.
“This is quite ‘new’ news and very welcome news for us,” Lansink explained. “(Funding to each food bank) won’t necessarily be based on any population or how many people are using it, there’s some food banks for instance, who are very well equipped and not looking for fridges freezers, or anything like that … but in some communities they have nothing at all … so my goal will be to make sure every food bank gets what they need.”
In larger cities such as Greater Vancouver, Food Banks BC has one central location that supplies thousands of smaller agencies, food banks and soup kitchens.
“For instance, in a community that is larger and has maybe six different food groups or food banks, it’s not good use of that money to give to six different smaller fridges,” she explained. “It’s better, and has much bigger impact, to make one central area and that’s why we did our announcement in Nanaimo yesterday (Wednesday).”
Nanaimo Loaves and Fishes Community Food Bank is the organization’s member that collects from grocery stores, and transports all the goods to one place, including perishables that would otherwise be thrown out (Food Recovery Program).
“So any food bank, food agency, soup kitchen or meal program can come every single day and take as much as they want,” Lansink said. “It’s really an economy of needs that way – all in one spot … we are hoping to see this kind of thing replicated in all communities including Trail. Most communities have a couple of different types of food banks, its not uncommon at all, but we would always expect and hope that they are sharing.”
Two and a half years ago Nanaimo was having trouble meeting the need of the community, the shelves were empty and they didn’t have funds to buy food, she added.
“So they decided to adopt this model and go for it, and now they have more than they need and can give away to everybody every single day.”