Tiny B.C. community loses only food bank due to high demand

Greenwood — a city with a population of 665 in B.C.'s Interior — is losing its only food bank.

'It’s developed beyond our capacity to handle it'

The City of Greenwood, located in south central British Columbia, is losing its only food bank due to overwhelming demand. (City of Greenwood)

A British Columbia community's only food bank has shut down after organizers say they can no longer keep up with demand.

Greenwood, B.C. — located in south central British Columbia close to the U.S. border — has a population of 665 according the 2016 census. It was incorporated as a cityin 1897 and has remained a city despite its declining population.

Ten years ago, the Evangelical Chapel in Greenwood started up a small food bank. Martin Fromme, the chair of the church board, says that food bank grew beyond capacity and was shut down on Thursday.

"The board just felt that this is getting too big for us. It's developed beyond our capacity to handle it. We need to shut it down," he said.

The food bank operated twice a month for a few hours. It originally served a few households in the community and was meant to be an emergency service, Fromme said.

"[We] have a lot of people that have been quite marginalized, I would say, especially over the winter time when they have these large heating bills to pay," he said.

"[Eventually] we served an average of 20 households, maybe up to 22 or 23 on some weeks."

This demand overwhelmed the small church's resources and staff, he said.

Few alternatives

Although there is support for a food bank from community residents — after all, Fromme says that's where they got their donations — it has been difficult to find an alternate location for the food bank.

"I had personally looked in the community over the last few years to move it, but if you go to a different venue, you've got utilities, rent, insurance and you've got these barriers to doing a food bank," he said.

For the time being, Fromme said those in need can go to a food-share in Rock Creek (about 33 kilometers away) or use the food bank in Grand Forks (around 42 kilometers away).

"I'm hoping that after we make this step to close the doors at Evangelical Chapel that another door will open."

Listen to the interview with Martin Fromme on CBC's Daybreak South:

Martin Fromme, chair of the church board that ran the food bank in Greenwood, says food bank simply got too big to handle. 5:08