The Richmond Food Bank has been able to extend its operating hours and even meet surging demand amid the pandemic – thanks to generous support from the community.
That support has allowed the food bank to expand its working hours from two days to six days a week during the pandemic, and volunteers can distribute 1,800 hampers each week.
“We are humbled by the overwhelming community support that we have received all through this pandemic. It has allowed us to respond to an increased need for food assistance, especially among people who have been hit hard by employment losses,” said executive director Hajira Hussein.
Last year, the Richmond Food Bank saw a 34 per cent increase in the number of people using its services for the first time, Hussain, as the pandemic worsened many peoples’ situations.
So when community activist Karina Reid put out a call for volunteers on her Coming Together Richmond Facebook group, the food bank was grateful for the help.
“When Karina reached out to us, it was the perfect timing because some volunteers wanted to take a break when the pandemic was just announced. People were anxious,” said Hussain.
She also stressed that volunteers are the backbone of the food bank, as they take care of daily operations, such as picking up donations from different organizations, sorting food, packing groceries and distributing food hampers.
In addition, the food bank has received funding from the Richmond Community Foundation, which allows them to provide additional support to their clients.
“For people who can’t wait in lines, we have a staff member who will prepare boxes for them. People can pick up boxes and leave,” explained Hussain.
But the support from the community didn’t just stop here. The food bank has received various donations, including blue bags by IKEA, a full load of leafy greens from KPU’s sustainable agriculture program and other large donations from Richmond Firefighters, RONA and other local businesses.
“We are really grateful that the community has come forward to help us,” said Hussain.