While schools take a break during the summer, local food banks in Richmond and across Metro Vancouver do not.
Richmond Food Bank executive director Hajira Hussain said they saw a 26 per cent increase of customers compared to last year, where 27 per cent are children, since the pandemic hit.
“Our school meal program had to be suspended because our volunteers weren’t allowed at the schools so we started delivering snacks to a few high schools and continued throughout last year and this year,” said Hussain, adding that they were trying to find other ways to help the students during the summer.
In July, the Richmond Food Bank partnered with the Richmond School District, St. Alban’s Church and Beth Tikvah to bring in the Backpack Buddies Program to Richmond.
Hussain told the Richmond News that there are about 42 students accessing the program through the Richmond School District each week where they receive hampers with snacks for just the students themselves.
The hampers include individual cereal boxes, granola bars and hummus and crackers as well as fresh produce and fruits.
Food for the program is offered through Food Banks of Canada's After the Bell program.
“The program has been doing really well and we’ve received amazing feedback about it.”
Meanwhile, Hussain said that the food bank saw an “increase in pressure” built over time during the pandemic.
“Usually we have maybe a single person increase, but from March to April we saw a 10 per cent increase and then another increase from June onwards.”
Last year, she added, the Richmond Food Bank served 1,925 individuals per month, but this past June they served up to 2,427 individuals.
“Our volunteers are working the best they can to meet the demand while still maintaining physical distancing at our food bank locations. We’re thankful to everyone who has donated to us to help us serve the community during this difficult time.”