Nova Scotia

Halifax food bank needs a new delivery truck to keep up with rising demand

Parker Street Food and Furniture Bank needs to raise $160,000 by December for a new delivery truck, otherwise it risks losing key donors as well as the ability to help the increasing number of people in need.

New refrigerated truck means Parker Street Food and Furniture bank can take larger donations, help more people

Since last year, Parker Street Food and Furniture Bank has seen a 15 per cent increase in demand for its services. (Dave Laughlin/CBC)

A Halifax food bank says it needs to raise enough money for a new delivery truck by December, or hundreds of people might go without the food they need.

Parker Street Food and Furniture Bank on Maynard Street is asking the community to pitch in $160,000 for a new refrigerated delivery truck.

"We're expecting that by the end of this year, we will have helped 20,000 people with food, which is a 15 per cent increase in comparison to last year," said Amgad Zaky, director of donor relations at the food bank.

Zaky said on average the food bank serves around 100 families a day and makes 300 deliveries a month.

He said the new truck will allow Parker Street staff and volunteers to serve more people in Halifax, including the many recent refugees new to the city, who may not be familiar with area resources.

"Without a reliable means of transporting our donated products and delivering them to those who are in need, we're not going to be in a position to help those people," said Zaky. "So we really need the support of the community."

He said some large donors, like restaurants, that make large contributions on a regular basis have said a refrigerated truck would make it easier to transport the items they want to donate.

Zaky said that by not having a reliable truck, the food bank runs the risk of losing these donors altogether.

The food bank's existing truck is 16 years old and Zaky said staff are afraid it will break down while delivering food to people in need, or worse — break down permanently.

Sydney Mogae has worked as a volunteer at Parker Street Food and Furniture Bank for 15 years. (Dave Laughlin/CBC)

Sydney Mogae, a long-time volunteer and president of Parker Street's board, said the truck is needed now more than ever because deliveries have increased since the start of the pandemic.

"We have realized now that situations like this may exist going into the future, and we are really changing the way we do things," he said. " We are doing more deliveries [now] than people coming in."

Mogae said the old truck has also cost thousands of dollars over the past several years just to keep it in working order.

"We are spending too much time on it, fixing and trying to get it onto the road," he said. "About three years ago, it was around $12,000 just to maintain it."

The Parker Street Food and Furniture Bank isn't the only organization facing challenges with meeting increased needs.

Feed Nova Scotia says food banks across the province are still struggling.

"We are continuing to see huge numbers of people at food banks right across the province and not just the food banks," said Karen Theriault, director of development and communications for Feed Nova Scotia.

"There's the shelters and soup kitchens and meal programs that we are supporting as well. We are consistently supporting between 2,500 and 3,500 unique individuals [per week] through that food bank network."

In the early days of the pandemic, Feed Nova Scotia created a COVID-19 food box program to provide home delivery of non-perishable food for people who couldn't access their local food bank.  

Theriault said they've since seen a steep increase in the number of people using the program, and she doesn't see the need letting up anytime soon — especially with Christmas on the way. 

Amgad Zaky, director of donor relations at Parker Street Food and Furniture Bank on Maynard Street says their goal is to raise at least $100,000 by December. (Dave Laughlin/CBC)

She said food insecurity has been a longstanding issue in the province, and now is the time to examine why one in six families in the province are still food insecure.

"We have newly elected governments in place, provincially and federally," said Thierault. "It's time for food insecurity to be a priority in this province and to ask them what they can do, what they will do to help address it."

Zaky said the food bank has raised about $40,000 for the new truck. Of the remaining $120,000 that they need, they're hoping to raise at least $100,000 by December. They're accepting donations via phone and their website.

"This is not a Parker Street project," said Zaky. "This is a community project, and the people that will be impacted the most by this truck project are the most vulnerable people in the communities… We want to be able to help the people that come to us."

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ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Feleshia Chandler is a journalist based in Halifax. She loves helping people tell their stories and has interests in issues surrounding LGBTQ+ people as well as Black, Indigenous and people of colour. You can reach her at feleshia.chandler@cbc.ca

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