Reported by Michele Paulse
Being better at providing nutritious food to its members is one of the key points the Greater Vancouver Food Bank highlighted in its 2016 community report.
BC Vegetables Fresh, a farmer’s association, supplies the food bank with produce but the food bank wants to improve on the amount of fruits and vegetables it has to distribute because the type and quality of food people eat affects their health.
“As a food bank, we have an obligation to be aware that there is a correlation between poverty and poor health,” the food bank said in its report.
Donations have traditionally been non-perishable items
Trish Garner, a community organizer at BC Poverty Reduction Coalition, a policy advocacy group, said, “Food at food banks historically has not been the healthiest of foods, a lot of canned food, not very much healthy fruit and vegetables and I know they’re trying to transition to provide more nutritious food.”
Community organizations act as drop off points for the food bank and because they don’t have the means to refrigerate perishable food, the food bank does not accept fresh fruit and vegetables from them.
Jennifer Takai, a program worker at Kerrisdale Community Centre, said the organization mostly receives donations of pasta and canned food because “[the food bank] only take[s] non-perishable [food].”
“The food bank has relationships with farmers in the Okanagan and the Fraser Valley and is focussing more on the quality of food it can over so that its members can healthy choices,” the bank community report said.
The trend toward healthier food is growing
Frog Hollow Neighbourhood House collects food at the food bank once a month for its members to use on an emergency basis.
“There’s always perishable food to choose from,” said Eva Aboud, community outreach and food security coordinator at Frog Hollow.
“It could be a box of apples, a box of potatoes, to a box of butternut squash, or all three at the same time,” Aboud said.
The amount of fresh food the food bank provides has increased in recent years.
“It [nutritious food] has improved a lot over the years,” Aboud said. “It’s amazing now.”