British Columbia

Food bank sites relocated to ensure physical distancing amid COVID-19 crisis

The critical need for physical distancing amid the COVID-19 crisis has forced the Greater Vancouver Food Bank to change its schedule and distribution locations.

Greater Vancouver Food Bank will be distributing food at 5 locations as of Thursday

The Greater Vancouver Food Bank's Burnaby location. (Maggie MacPherson/CBC)

The critical need for physical distancing amid the COVID-19 crisis has forced the Greater Vancouver Food Bank to change its schedule and distribution locations.

Some of the organization's 12 sites offering much-needed food distribution, which include churches and community centres, were deemed too small to ensure adequate distance between people to stop the spread of the coronavirus that causes the illness.

After a plan to set up at Rogers Arena fell through, the food bank has been working with the City of Vancouver and Vancouver Coastal Health to open two new temporary locations to serve its clients: at the Queen Elizabeth Theatre and the Mount Pleasant Community Centre. 

"These are large locations where we can follow health protocols. We are trying to make them as central as we can and hit each city that we support," said Cynthia Boulter, the food bank's chief operating officer.

Queen Elizabeth Theatre opened on Tuesday and Mount Pleasant Community Centre is scheduled to open Thursday. The food bank's other distribution sites are:

  • Greater Vancouver Food Bank head office, Burnaby
  • North Shore Neighborhood House, North Vancouver
  • Tipperary Park, New Westminster

A new schedule with the new locations and their hours of operation has been posted online.

Clients must show their Greater Vancouver Food Bank client card or photo ID, and be healthy to access the food distribution locations.  

Clients with health or mobility issues that are unable to get to their new distribution centres will be provided for, Boulter says, by food bank partners assisting at the locations that have been temporarily closed. 

The food bank serves approximately 8,500 people a week. Children and youth make up 24 per cent of its clients, and another 24 per cent are seniors.

Boulter said dozens of new clients showed up at food bank sites on Wednesday, and she expects that number to grow.

"The volume is going to increase in these locations once people realize where we are," she said. "We'll just have to see. This is Day 2 with the new setup."

If you have a COVID-19-related story we should pursue that affects British Columbians, please email us at impact@cbc.ca.  

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