The Lower Mainland’s newest food bank is operating at “full speed,” says Matthew Campbell.
Run by the Cloverdale Community Kitchen, the Fraser Valley Regional Food Bank has seen a lot of traffic recently.
“The need has grown overnight,” said Campbell, the director of the CCK. “We now have about 100 households registered.”
The food bank has only officially been open since March 1, but has been operating since December.
“We were going to call it the Cloverdale Food Bank, but we’re getting families from Langley, Delta, Surrey, and White Rock,” he said. “People are coming from all over.”
Campbell said he’s getting donations from across the Fraser Valley too.
“Companies from Delta all the way out to Abbotsford are donating food to us.”
Campbell said they also serve an additional 100-150 people through partnerships with recovery houses in Surrey, White Rock, Delta, and Langley.
“They can hardly make it with the money they get,” explained Campbell. “So we give (the recovery houses) food so they can feed the residents in their care.”
He said they supply six recovery houses. One of them, Launching Pad, in turn, supplies some smaller recovery houses.
Campbell said anyone can register with the Fraser Valley Regional Food Bank and he encouraged anyone who had lost their job recently because of the pandemic, or anyone that is in need for any reason, to sign up.
Campbell originally set up the food bank to operate like a store where people could walk through and shop for free, just like they were buying their own groceries.
“Because of COVID-19, we’re not allowing people to come inside and shop for their food anymore, but it was designed as a store. So our food bank is unique in that way.”
Campbell said the food bank will revert to the “shopping model” when it’s safe to do so. But until the pandemic eases, and things go back to normal, the food bank will continue to operate under the provincially-mandated physical-distancing rules.
That means the needy show up and pick from pre-packed grocery carts outside the food bank.
“Everything is already bagged and boxed and ready to go in the parking lot.”
The Fraser Valley Regional Food Bank is open Mondays from 5:30 p.m. to 6:30 p.m. and on Thursdays from 10 a.m. to 12 p.m.
Campbell also said the food bank is looking for people to come down and help out.
“We can always use volunteers, but especially now, as our older volunteers and our immune-compromised volunteers are not here.”
He said if anyone does want to lend a hand, they can call 604-574-4001, or email Courtney van den Boogaard at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Campbell said they are working hard to prepare for an increase in traffic as the economy slows and even more and more people lose their jobs because of the pandemic.
“I think there is quite a bit of need out there, already, and I think it’s only going to increase.”