Staff and volunteers at an Indigenous non-profit say they're struggling to keep up with the growing need for food as the cost of living continues to rise in Vancouver.
Helping Spirit Lodge Society was formed to support women and children fleeing domestic violence, but they've expanded to include a food hamper program and an outdoor fridge that's available to those who need it 24 hours a day.
Bradley Pearce, team leader for the Bear Clan Family Outreach Team, said these programs have expanded beyond their original intention.
"It ended up being something that we would offer to other people, not just women and children, but fathers, elders that cannot move, people with disabilities that are not able to leave the house," he said.
"I'm starting to notice more people calling in, asking for that help."
Bradley Pearce, outreach team leader for Helping Spirit Lodge Society in Vancouver, says while Healing Spirit is a First Nations-led society, support is available to anyone who needs it. (CBC)
Pearce said that while Healing Spirit is a First Nations-led society, support is available to anyone who needs it.
"A lot of people are facing homelessness, [living] pay cheque to pay cheque. The price of everything is going up," he said.
Right now, the organization provides food hampers three times a month, reaching 16 families each time, or about 81 people, according to Pearce. The fridge, which is available even when Helping Spirit's East Vancouver facility on 3965 Dumfries St. is closed, is refilled twice a week.
Volunteer Jessica Simard said it feels good to help people who need a bit extra, but there just isn't enough funding or donations to keep up with the demand.
"When we get the hampers, they're gone very quickly. When we fill that fridge, it can be gone in a matter of minutes sometimes," Simard said.
"It's really heartbreaking when we have to turn people away. It's really hard."
Pearce urged anyone who has time or money to volunteer or donate, and said he's seen a big benefit to bringing the community together in times of need.
"There's a big part of healing when you're helping someone," he said.