British Columbia

B.C. announces $3M in emergency funding to help struggling food banks

The B.C. government announced $3 million in emergency funding Sunday to help struggling food banks keep up with the surge in demand due to the effects from COVID-19.

Funding will allow drive-through and delivery options, and remove the requirement for ID

The Greater Vancouver Food Bank has had to close some of its distribution locations as it adapts to the COVID-19 health crisis. (Greater Vancouver Food Bank)

The B.C. government announced $3 million in emergency funding Sunday to help struggling food banks keep up with the surge in demand due to the COVID-19 crisis.

Food Banks British Columbia will distribute the money to food banks province-wide so they can buy and distribute food, pay employees and cover other costs essential to the delivery of their food programs.

"British Columbia's not-for-profit food banks provide a critical service for vulnerable people in our communities, especially during this most challenging time," said Selina Robinson, minister of municipal affairs and housing.

The emergency funds are coming out of the province's community gaming grants program, and come on the heels of a ministerial order issued  three days ago, under the Emergency Program Act, to protect B.C.'s most vulnerable.

Urgent call

On March 17, The Greater Vancouver Food Bank issued an urgent call for financial donations, shopping bags and volunteers in order to keep providing services amid the response to COVID-19.

The organization said it may need to purchase more food than usual to help people who are struggling.

"Food insecure people cannot afford to stockpile food, and we are here to ensure they have access to a continuous supply of it," said the food bank's chief operating officer, Cynthia Boulter, in a news release.

The organization, Boutler said, had to be prepared in case its usual donors from the food industry are unable to continue providing critical donations.

"This grant will make a tremendous impact in communities all over B.C. and ensure that food banks can keep their doors open and continue to meet the needs of the vulnerable, who particularly need their assistance at this time," said Laura Lansink, executive director, Food Banks BC.

In a statement, the province said the funding will allow food banks to have "drive-through and delivery opportunities, larger hampers, increased home delivery capability and removes the requirement to present identification."

These latest steps are part of the B.C. government's $5-billion economic action plan to help families and businesses struggling financially through the COVID-19 crisis, including one-time payments of $1,000 to people who are now out of work.