I recently visited the Greater Vancouver Food Bank Society. There I found a team of enthusiastic employees and volunteers dedicated to providing healthy food and beverages year round to community members facing hard times. While they work to address the immediate food needs of community members, this food bank (along with others), recognizes that longer term solutions are needed to reduce the need for emergency food resources in the first place.
According to Food Banks Canada, about 97,000 people in BC access food banks each month. This includes children, families, seniors, employees, people living with disabilities and people living with mental illnesses. Rates of chronic disease are much higher in people with low incomes compared to the rest of the population, which is one reason why healthy food donations are important.
Many food banks in BC strive to provide healthy and balanced food and beverages to their members. Some food banks are able to use cash donations to buy fresh seasonal vegetables and fruit from local farmers. Did you know that for every dollar donated, food banks can purchase upwards of $3.00 worth of healthy food and drinks at wholesale prices? That’s amazing value with amazing potential to feed people healthy food!
If you’re in the giving spirit this holiday season, there are lots of ways to support food banks:
- Volunteer. Most food banks are run either entirely or mostly by volunteers. Ask your local food bank what you can do to help achieve their goals, mission and longer-term vision.
- Donate dollars and cents. Giving money helps food banks purchase healthy food and beverages that are in demand at whole sale prices.
- Donate healthy food and beverages. Check with your local food bank to see what they need most. Healthy items are lower in sugar, fat and sodium. Here are some suggestions:
- Canned fish or meat, for example, tuna, salmon, and chicken
- Canned beans, for example, kidney beans, black beans, and chickpeas
- 100% nut butters, for example, peanut butter
- Nuts and seeds
- Canned vegetables
- Pasta sauce
- Canned fruit, packed in its own juice or water
- Whole grain pasta and rice
- Whole grain breakfast cereals
- Hearty soups, stews and chillies
- Cooking and baking ingredients, for example, flour and canola oil
Food Banks Canada: HungerCount 2014