While they braced for a surge in demand as COVID-19 layoffs loomed, the Boundary Community Food Bank has instead seen a rise in community donations to help keep the service’s shelves well-stocked through the uncertainty.
Inventory coordinator Lynda Hynes said that the Grand Forks-based food bank didn’t see any of the $3 million in provincial funding for food banks that was rolled out last month, but did receive $3,000 from the federal government’s $50 million food bank support package. Hynes said that provincial funding was targeted to food banks demonstrating a dire need. Instead, their support has come straight from the Boundary.
“The community has so stepped up – it is amazing,” Hynes said. She added that it seemed that on pick-up day, there were more people coming with cheques than there were get food.
Following COVID-19 protocols themselves, the food bank volunteers had to revert to a hamper-style program in March as the Donaldson Drive facility’s space was too tight to ensure social distancing. At one point with the hampers, Hynes said, protein options were slim, with local grocery stores at the time being low on their own stock to supply the food bank with.
After a re-design, the food bank is allowing clients to select their own items off the shelves once again, which Hynes says cuts down on food waste (people actually select what they enjoy eating) and makes the work slightly less intensive for volunteers.
While the food bank had anticipated more clients than what they’ve seen recently, due to temporary layoffs, Hynes suspects that the wave has yet to come. While federal and provincial benefits like the Canada Emergency Response Benefit are helping people pay for food now, there is a worry about what will happen when such programs end and employees still may not be back to work. The B.C. Emergency Benefit for Workers may also be helping people right now, but it is only a one-time cheque for $1,000.
In the meantime, grocery store donations to the food bank are back up to about 60 per cent of what they were before COVID-19, Hynes said, but the Boundary food bank is still looking for donations of things like pet food, which it does not normally purchase with donated monies.
The food bank will also be hosting a plant sale on May 9 to raise money.