British Columbia

New Canada Food Guide recommendations a challenge for B.C. food banks

Health Canada unveiled a new national food guide this week and the recommendations will be challenging for provincial food banks.

Providing fresh fruit and plant-based proteins is an ideal, not a reality

Food Banks B.C. is partnering with grocery stores to try and stock member banks with more produce and proteins as recommended by the revised Canada Food Guide. (Jacy Schindel, CBC)

A revamped Canada Food Guide was unveiled this week, and the new recommendations pose a challenge for food banks in British Columbia.

The guide recommends plenty of fruits and vegetables, whole grain foods and protein foods, with an emphasis on plant-based proteins. According to Health Canada, the ideal plate is half fruits and vegetables, a quarter whole grains and a quarter proteins.

"Ideally, that's what every food bank in our province would love to be giving out but that isn't necessarily the reality,"  Laura Lansink, executive director of Food Banks B.C. told host Stephen Quinn on CBC's The Early Edition.

'We're going to see repercussions'

According to Lansink, about 100,000 people in B.C. use a food bank every month. Lansink said meeting their needs is going to be a challenge and that with food costs projected to rise this year, people living paycheck-to-paycheck might also have to turn to their local food bank.

"Even the slightest increase in food pricing ... we're going to see repercussions from this," said Lansink.

Food Banks B.C. has secured refrigeration capacity for all 100 of its member food banks and is partnering with grocery stores to collect fresh food, dairy and proteins that would otherwise be thrown out.

But Lansink said most banks still give out a lot of dried and canned goods.

"We don't want to be giving out canned items, but when the price goes up, it makes it that much more challenging," said Lansink.

And while a bag of produce can sometimes cost less than a case of canned goods, Lansink said the more expensive proteins and grains are critical to make sure food bank users — especially children — have enough "staying power" to get through a day.​

Nearly one-in-three visitors to B.C. food banks is a child. 

To listen to the complete interview with Laura Lansink see the audio link below.

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