Richmond community group shares excess food with those in need

With acts as simple as sharing extra bananas, splitting a Costco-sized portion of groceries or collecting unused canned goods, one Richmond group is aiming to combat hunger in the community.

Richmond Food Helps, a closed Facebook group, has a simple mantra: “times are tough for everybody...be kind and generous to your neighbour.” Launched last fall, the group now has more than 150 members who simply post when they have excess food to offer, and others comment on where and when they could pick up the item.  

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“Everybody’s struggling in their own way,” La Toya Barrington, Richmond resident and owner of Go2Girl who started the Facebook group, told the Richmond News.

“I’ve been there…so it’s just a way to try and help and give back to the community and allow others to give back to the community in their own way.”

For Barrington, Richmond’s food services are not always accessible to those in need.

“The hours available offered to access these food services don’t really work for a lot of people,” she said, citing narrow opening times, midday business hours or out-of-the-way locations as being especially problematic.

“When I was accessing (food services), a lot of the stuff was expired, which makes things difficult,” she added.

In the Facebook group right now, Barrington said she sees a lot of canned goods being given away.

“I try to give away a lot of pasta or things that are more filling,” she said, adding that food banks are in need of filling foods and fresh produce.

The Facebook group stipulates that all members take and consume food at their own risk. Members who may not feel comfortable posting their need are encouraged to send a private message.

“The (people) that private message me are very grateful,” Barrington said. “A lot of them I know personally so I know they’re struggling and it’s just a good feeling to be able to help.”

Barrington said some restaurants have even partnered with her to reduce their food waste, but have chosen to remain anonymous.

“A lot of restaurants have so much food waste and it kills me that a lot of stuff that can be given just gets thrown out for liability reasons,” she said. “Instead of throwing out food, I thought that it would be better for more people just to post it on (the Facebook group) to give it away to other people.”

Looking ahead, Barrington said she hopes more people get involved in the Facebook group.

“It takes a village,” she said. “Even the tiniest bit helps.”

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