British Columbia

Vancouver Food Bank warns against unwanted donations

The Greater Vancouver Food Bank is warning that it's losing money and wasting volunteer hours after receiving too many unusable donations.

Opened bread, tinned alligator meat and spotted-dick pudding among unwanted items

The wall of shame at the Greater Vancouver Food Bank showcases items that are too old or not nutritious enough to be distributed to those in need. (CBC)

The Greater Vancouver Food Bank is warning that it's losing money and wasting volunteer hours after receiving too many unusable donations.

It's gotten so bad that staff have created a wall of shame featuring some of the more questionable items that have been donated but are unfit to be distributed to those in need. 

The wall is home to items including including opened bread, vitamins, as well as tinned alligator meat and shark fin soup. 

Donations are most commonly rejected because they're past their expiry date or are deemed to have little nutritional value. 

Expired donations like this box of pasta cost food banks time and money to dispose of. (Tina Lovgeen/CBC)

The GVFB says people often have the best of intentions when making donations, but need to pay attention to what it can and cannot accept. 

"They go and clean out the food pantry, and they don't look at the expiry dates or if things have been opened or not," said Ariela Friedmann with the GVFB.

Friedmann says not only are donations useless, they also cost the food bank time and money. 

"It actually costs us ...  in volunteer time to sort through all of this product and check for expiry dates and whether food products have been opened or used," said Friedmann. 

"We pay roughly $40,000 a year to then put this through the waste stream, because we cannot distribute it."

This can of hairspray was one of many unwanted donations at the Greater Vancouver Food Bank. (Tina Lovgreen /CBC)

The GVFB has a list on its site of items it is looking for

It's seeking non-perishable food, specifically high protein, whole grain, lower sodium or lower sugar items including:

  • Canned fish or meats.
  • Canned beans, kidney, black bean, or chickpeas. 
  • 100 per cent nut butters.
  • Pasta and rice.
  • Canned vegetables, pasta sauces.
  • Canned fruit, packed in its own juice or water.
  • Whole grain breakfast cereals. 
  • Hearty soups, stews and chili.

With files from Tina Lovgreen