Tri-Cities food bank gets $77,000 boost from province to help with growing demand

A local food bank is getting a boost from the provincial government.

The Tri-Cities’ Share Family & Community Services (SHARE), is set to receive $77,000 to help meet the rising demands each month.

Minister of Social Development and Poverty Reduction Sheila Malcolmson made the announcement after touring the non-profit food bank on Monday.

“We all want people to have the support and services they need to get healthy, nutritious food,” Malcolmson said. “Global inflation has hit people hard, and the rising cost of food is especially tough on vulnerable people. This funding will help hundreds of people in Port Moody access good food to put on their tables.”

SHARE is the community based organization serving 234,000 people in Coquitlam, Port Coquitlam, Port Moody, Anmore, Belcarra, and New Westminster.

More than 5,000 people use its food bank each month, including seniors on fixed incomes, refugee families, single mothers, and others who can’t keep up with the cost of living, according to Claire MacLean, CEO of SHARE.

Port Moody-Coquitlam NDP MLA Rick Glumac, who also attended the tour, said vulnerable peoples’ reliance on food banks has grown alongside rising prices and climate emergencies.

He said they held a roundtable discussion with several users of the food bank, which was attended mostly by new Canadians.

“(It) was really amazing . . . to hear how much support they receive – not just with the food,” Glumac said. “The interesting thing they communicated to us was there was a real community there, like a really supportive environment, really welcoming to anyone with no judgement.”

The Tri-Cities organization is one of a number of local food banks to receive part of a $15 million grant, which was first announced by the province back in August, 2023 to help ease the pressures on food security.

Money from the grant will also be used to support school food programs and address access challenges in northern communities and those affected by wildfires, according to the province.

The province cited statistics from 2021showing 17 percent of B.C. household have experienced food insecurity, which jumped two percent from 2020. The provincial government’s poverty reduction strategy aims to reduce the overall poverty rate in B.C. by 25 percent and child poverty rate by half by 2024.

The grant funding is part of a $200 million provincial investment to help relieve the pressures from inflation, supply-chain issues, and climate emergencies which have all affected local food supply and production, according to the province.

Aside from the food bank, SHARE provides services related to mental health, affordable housing, accessibility, senior care, newcomer support and childcare support.

Patrick Penner, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, Tri-Cities Dispatch