New food bank support system made easier after COVID-19 connections
Discussions for change began three years ago and involves 60 locations
Food Depot Alimentaire in Moncton is now overseeing all the food banks in New Brunswick after the change was made earlier this summer.
Executive Director Chantal Senecal said a decision was made at the annual meeting of the New Brunswick Association of Food Banks to dissolve and let Food Depot Alimentaire take over.
But Senecal added it has been something both organizations have been discussing since they began working together since 2017.
"About a year and a half ago we started the discussions of moving forward in a more efficient way, I guess," she said. "There was just a lot of things that just made sense for us to better support the food banks in our province."
Senecal said the 60 food banks across the province will be working with Food Depot Alimentaire but will remain independent.
With Food Depot Alimentaire taking over the distribution of food to food banks three years ago, Senecal said it put them in a good situation when the COVID-19 pandemic began,
"We were in a really good position to administer funding out to the food banks as well as support in terms of the protocols in making sure the food banks were still set up and able to serve their clients."
Being able to stay connected with the food banks, deemed an essential service early on in the pandemic on a daily basis was really important, Senecal said.
"It kind of sped up the process as well of connecting with the food banks and building that network."
Senecal added each food bank is still their own independent organization and will do their own programs to fit the needs of their communities whether they are in a rural or urban area of the the province.
"We're more of a partner working in collaboration to represent them on a provincial level in terms of advocacy and policy in provincial government to reduce poverty and numbers at food banks."
Food Depot Alimentaire will also ensure food banks have the resources they need to continue to the work they have to to meet those needs.
"It's all about coming together and improving services."
Senecal said food banks are preparing to have more clients as government benefit programs end and more people begin to experience issues with food security.
"Not everyone who is food insecure will come to a food bank. We have to make sure we're working with other groups and other people involved in food security to come to a collaborative approach in New Brunswick."
Senecal encourages people to help out in whatever way they can - volunteering, making donations and more.
"There are so many ways to get involved, it's just for people to take that first step."
With files from Information Morning Moncton