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Mission faces significant demand for food security

New survey from food coalition finds a quarter of Mission households rely on support services
Volunteers at St. Joseph’s Food Bank in Mission fill the shelves in November 2022. The food bank is currently serving roughly 1,300 families and over 1,800 individuals. /Dillon White File Photo

Over 25 per cent of Mission households needed help to obtain food last year, a survey from the Mission Food Coalition found.

Coalition chair Stephen Evans presented to council on Monday (Dec. 4) with results from a survey conducted on food security in the area.

Roughly 26 per cent of respondents accessed a service either every month or most months to help find food or money to purchase food.

The survey had 429 total respondents — 362 online and 67 in person — yielding a 95 per cent confidence level and five per cent margin for error, according to the presentation.

Of the respondents, the majority had between two and 6+ people in their household and over 82 per cent had children living with them.

Meanwhile, upwards of 14 per cent of Mission households did not have enough of the food they wanted to eat in the past year.

For those who utilized food support services, St. Joseph’s Food Bank was most popular with 29 per cent making use of the location. Meanwhile, over 25 per cent accessed free or discounted food, 24 per cent received support from family and 15 per cent received support from a church or religious group.

Findings also included challenges experienced by those who used support services, including low food quality and too little food. Food support services didn’t provide enough meat, dairy, fresh fruits, vegetables and nutritious food overall, according to a chunk of respondents.

Other members of the coalition also presented statistics from their respective organizations to council.

St. Joseph’s Food Bank in Mission is currently serving roughly 1,300 families and over 1,800 individuals — which has skyrocketed from 493 families and 879 unique individuals in 2019.

“The demand here is significant. I mean three semi trucks a month at the food bank alone is a huge demand. If you haven’t got money to donate, donating a non-perishable food item is important and donating your time if you can give it [is] very helpful to this group,” Evans said.

Food bank manager Sandra Cascaden says St. Joseph’s brings in about 125,000 pounds of food per month — 10,000 of which would go to landfills.

“The food bank is the epicentre of food security in the Mission catchment area. They support all these other agencies,” Evans said.

The Food Bank needs funds for operational support and Cascaden says its space is also too small.

Meanwhile, the Food Centre provided 475 with assistance each month in 2022 and the Starfish Backpack program for children is packing 113 backpacks per week.

The Mission Food Coalition is also developing a food security strategy for the city and surrounding area.

Evans says there are community assets that could be deployed more efficiently and partnerships that could be more engaged.

The challenge is informing people that external economic factors often impact the demand for food, Evans says.

“We don’t control inflation. We don’t control the global supply chain. We don’t control pandemics, but yet we’re all affected by it,” Evans said.

Evans will present the food security strategy to council at a later date.

RELATED: Demand higher than ever at St. Joseph’s Food Bank

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Dillon White

About the Author: Dillon White

I joined the Mission Record in November of 2022 after moving to B.C. from Nova Scotia earlier in the year.
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