Surrey Food Bank needs bigger home to handle bigger demand

The Surrey Food Bank says that to meet growing food needs in the community, they need a facility two to three times bigger than their current one.

Executive director says 200 to 300 families come to them for food every day

Marilyn Herrman, executive director of the Surrey Food Bank, says the current facility is much too small to serve the 200 to 300 families who come in for food every day. (Gavin Fisher/CBC)

The Surrey Food Bank needs a new home to accommodate growing demand, but they say that's a challenge because of rapidly rising property prices.

Executive director Marilyn Herrman says it's a problem that's been a long time coming.

"When we moved into our current building 20 years ago, we realized after a couple of years that is was already getting too small," she told On The Coast host Stephen Quinn. "It's about 8,000 square feet. Now, 20 years later, we need something at least 20,000 square feet, preferably about 24,000."

Warehousing, sorting and distribution are all done out of the current building, and Herrman says demand is always increasing. At present, she says, the food bank can expect between 200 and 300 families to come in every day.

"It's a lot of people in a small space for a few hours," she said.

Herrman says the new location needs to be centrally located and easily accessible by transit.

"That's very challenging because that's where businesses want to be, where condos, developers want to build," she said. "So we're right where people want to get the land, and they grab it before we have a chance."

The increasing cost of real estate in Surrey is also a challenge, Herrman says, and, ironically, housing unaffordability is why so many people come to the food bank in the first place.

"When people come to us, we ask them: 'what would have to change in your life so you don't need us anymore?'" she said. "And they all tell us, number one, 'I need affordable housing. I need somewhere to live where I'm not putting 50, 60, 70 per cent of my income into a roof over my head."

Herrman says the food bank will continue to operate in its current location until a new facility opens, but described the current working conditions as "horrific."


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