An open letter to the Greater Vancouver Foodbank

While community food security is on all of our minds right now as we professionally and personally deal with the effects of the pandemic, the Greater Vancouver Food Bank recently proposed changes to its registration process that will have a long term effect on people’s ability to access food supports.

In early March they announced that they were putting in place a new registration process that would require all current food bank users to re-register. To re-register (or register in the future) they would be required to provide:

  • valid government issue picture ID for all adults;
  • verification of current address; and,
  • verification of their last three months income.

In addition to this, for the first time they would be introducing means-testing which could disqualify some current food bank users from access if their income was above a figure set by the GVFB (slightly above the LICO).

This is at a time when most food banks are moving away from increasing barriers to food access.

Needless to say, alarm bells went off for many who work with vulnerable populations and a plan was developed to advocate against this.

Last week the Board of the NW Homelessness Coalition Society endorsed an advocacy letter to the Greater Vancouver Food Bank to express our deep concern around these changes and the effect they will have on access to food.

Even with this pandemic happening, they have not stepped back from these changes and still intend to have all food bank users re-register by July 1st at the latest. The current information also has this registration process happening at the Burnaby Greater Vancouver Food Bank location.

We have one GVFB depot in New West that currently operates out of Olivet Baptist Church 3 Thursday mornings a month. During the crisis, they will operate from the parking lot of Tipperary Park. It is not known how many current food bank users will be able to meet the new requirements or what effect their disqualification will have on other local service providers’ food programming.

To learn more please read and consider signing the open letter to the Greater Vancouver Foodbank on behalf of your organization or as a concerned community member.

Stay safe everyone!

Supporting local service providers during the pandemic

At times like these, it is understandable that people want to support those in our community who are in need. As someone who has been a food advocate in this community for years now, I am extremely worried about the ability of our local organizations to meet community needs as this crisis unfolds. While it is an easy and quick reaction to provide support to large organizations like the Greater Vancouver Food Bank, we would like to encourage you to please consider supporting local community organizations that continue to operate and provide food programming and other supports in New Westminster during this pandemic.  Organizations like:

Aunt Leah’s Place

Dan’s Legacy (food recovery efforts that are supporting local organizations)

Elizabeth Fry Society

Lookout Housing and Health

Lower Mainland Purpose Society (in need of volunteers and funding support and supplies for their Health Van)

Salvation Army  604.521.0363

Seniors Services Society   (in need of volunteers and gas cards)

Union Gospel Mission 604.525.8989

And, please don’t forget those organizations that have temporarily suspended their food services and will need our support once they are able to operate again. We hope this will happen soon! Organizations like:

Holy Trinity Cathedral for their weekly Breakfast program.

St Barnabas’s for their weekly community lunch and food cupboard.

St. Aidan’s for their proposed new weekend food bank for community members who can’t access weekday supports.

Stay safe everyone,

Betina

NWHCS Coalition and Projects Coordinator

Volunteers needed – New West Homeless Count

The goals of the 2020 Homeless Count are to obtain a reliable estimate on the number of people experiencing homelessness, to obtain a demographic profile of those individuals through the count survey, and to identify long-term data trends of homelessness in the region.  It is extremely important for our community to be represented in these findings as Governments, funders and community agencies rely on data from homeless counts to help make informed policy and program decisions.

The Homeless Count is happening March 3rd and 4th; with the shelter count (enumerating individuals experiencing homelessness that are sheltered) taking place on the evening of March 3rd  and the day time street count (enumerating individuals experiencing homelessness that are unsheltered) taking place on March 4th. 

We are still in need of volunteers (4-hour shifts) to help with the count on the 4th. If you are interested, the New Westminster volunteer training is happening on Tuesday, Feb 18th from 6 pm to 8 pm at Holy Trinity Cathedral.

To register you can contact the Count Coordinator Julie via email at homeless2020@outlook.com or phone at 604.351.0160. You can also complete the volunteer application.