B.C. food banks struggle to keep up with demand amid flooding

·2 min read
Archway Food Bank in Abbotsford serves about 3,000 people a month (Courtesy of Archway Food Bank - image credit)
Archway Food Bank in Abbotsford serves about 3,000 people a month (Courtesy of Archway Food Bank - image credit)

In the aftermath of this week's flooding and severe disruptions to the supply chain, food banks are facing their own challenges bringing in food.

Food Banks B.C. executive director Dan Huang-Taylor said food banks across the province have been affected by road closures, devastation to the local agricultural sector and panic buying.

The organization says it has resorted to flying food out to certain communities that are completely cut off at the moment, including Hope, Lytton, and Princeton.

"There are some very, very desperate situations for a lot of folks throughout the province," said Huang-Taylor.

Archway Food Bank, located on Essendene Avenue in Abbotsford, has been unable to keep up with the increase in demand for meals.

Taelyr Keeley, Archway's food justice supervisor, said that a lot of new families have come in since the flooding began. This is on top of the usual influx that happens every year around the holiday season.

This week, Keeley said, they have been running out of food around 1:30 p.m.

"We weren't able to serve our normal clientele, let alone the new people that are coming to the food bank," said Keeley.

Most of the perishable fresh foods that they serve come from local farms, which have been severely impacted by the floods. Keeley said they will have to look at sourcing food from other farmers outside of the flooded area.

"We're having such a shortage of the fresh food that we're getting from the farmers because their fields are flooded," he said.

Huang-Taylor said the demand for food banks had already increased over the past year due to the COVID-19 pandemic and the wildfires in the summer.

Hope on the horizon

Despite the devastating conditions in Abbotsford, Keeley said that they have received an outpouring of community support and donations.

"It's been really great to see all the community members rally together to support the good work that we're doing here at the food bank."

Nature Pickin's Market located on Sumas Way was one of the many businesses in Abbotsford that had to close due to flood damage.

Owner Caroline Phillips said they donated most of the remainder of their perishable food to a local restaurant that helped distribute it to those in need "to make sure that it didn't go to waste."

According to Huang-Taylor, there is a pretty good relationship between food banks and the food sector.

"The farming community and grocery sector are deeply tied to food banks, there's a lot of allyship and support."

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