Mission Community Services Food Centre

Mission Community Services Food Centre

Future is an unknown for Mission food banks

Charitable organizations are managing for now, but fear donations may slow while demands increase

Most food banks across BC have seen a drop in donations due to the COVID-19 pandemic, and Food Banks BC representatives have predicted rising demand for their services as the economic effects of COVID-19 unfold.

However, two Mission-based organizations – St. Joseph’s Food Bank and the Mission Community Services Food Centre – both say they are still in adequate shape, at least for now.

Kevin Tatla, the community resources manager at Mission Community Services, said the Food Centre is fortunate to have had some extra supply.

“We have put an order in with our supplier, but they have been swamped. We’ve been delayed and we still don’t have 100 per cent confirmation of when (a delivery) is going to be.”

Tatla said he anticipates getting a definitive answer on the timeline later this week.

“I think we will be OK for about a month or month and a half, but I’m not sure what’s going to happen after that.”

The Food Centre has seen an increase in the number of people registering for hampers, many of whom have never been to the centre before.

“We provide hampers for people who have registered for assistance but we also provide some day bags for people living on the streets. They don’t have to register,” Tatla said.

While he doesn’t know when his next supply shipment is coming in, Tatla said they are always accepting donation from the public. Those donations can be made at the main office at 33179 Second Ave. in Mission.

“If people want to donate but don’t feel comfortable coming down – and we also don’t want a significant amount of foot traffic coming in – we have volunteer drivers who are mobile that we can pick up from people’s houses.”

They also deliver hampers to people in need if they are uncomfortable coming in to pick them up.

St. Joseph’s Food Bank:

Wendy Neigel, executive director of St. Joseph’s Food Bank, said the pandemic has caused many concerns and changes to the organization.

“We are worried that we aren’t going to last the COVID virus, but things just seem to happen.”

The food bank, which is located at 32550 Seventh Ave. in Mission, just received an order from Dairyland as well as extra food from the North Vancouver Food Bank.

“We’ve been really lucky to get these donations. People are constantly calling me to bring in donations,” Neigel said.

And they rely heavily on the support from the community.

“The amount of food we do have, it’s not enough to last three months. But more just seems to be coming in.”

While donations keep arriving, Neigel said the way they hand out food has changed drastically.

The food bank used to be set up like a super market with people coming in and picking items they need from the well-stocked shelves. But not anymore.

“We are making up big hampers for them. People are not allowed in the building now and have to stand six feet apart from each other. We serve them one at a time.”

Another concern is volunteers. Neigel said they don’t have enough at this point.

“Our group of volunteers are, for the most part, 65 and over … We don’t expect them to come because of the COVID thing and many of them don’t come.”

Anyone interested in volunteering can call Neigel at 778-201-5000.

New funding:

It was announced earlier this week that food banks across B.C. will receive emergency funding worth $3 million from the provincial government to help fight the impact of COVID-19.

Selina Robinson, minister of municipal affairs and housing, said the funding announced Sunday comes from the provincial community grant program.

“British Columbia’s not-for-profit food banks provide a critical service for vulnerable people in our communities, especially during this most challenging time,” Robinson said.

“During times like these, we need to help each other as much as possible. This community gaming grant will help relieve hunger and provide support for the people in our province who need it most.”