About Us

The Greater Vancouver Food Bank was set up as a temporary relief to the hunger crisis in 1983. 37 years later, our goal is to meet the continued need for our services with strong food quality, more food for individuals and families to take home, and specialized nutrition programs built for children and seniors. Today, in the midst of a global pandemic with more new clients coming to us for support, this goal has not changed.

We provide healthy food to those in need in two ways: directly to 9,000 people weekly across Vancouver, Burnaby, New Westminster and the North Shore; and, to tens of thousands more people through the 112 Community Agency Partners we provide food to each week. These community agencies use our food in their hot meal and snack programs for a variety of people in need, including those who are homeless, as well as school nutrition programs, community kitchens, shelters and more.

Vision

healthy communities through fair and effective food systems

Mission

providing healthy food to those in need

Values

respect, integrity, accountability, stewardship

2020-2023 Strategic Plan

The five pillars of our strategic plan were designed to guide the Greater Vancouver Food Bank’s actions and decisions. This plan will help shape the organization’s evolution as we continue our services and meet our clients’ food support needs. It will ensure the organization builds on our strengths while we take care of our important relationships, prepare for adversity, pursue opportunity, and plan for the future.

Build long term financial stability
Drive continual organizational improvement
Make data-driven decisions
Enhance stakeholder relationships
Plan for the future

Leadership Notes

Cheryl Shkurhan, Board Chair

In 2021, the COVID-19 pandemic continued to challenge our communities. Amid the difficulty, the Greater Vancouver Food Bank provided more food to more people than ever before.

With the incredible generosity of donors, local food producers, retailers and B.C. farmers – and with the support of thousands of volunteers and our remarkable staff – we distributed 7.1 million pounds of food this year. We also extended our reach into our communities by significantly increasing the number of community agencies we support. These agencies provide vital neighborhood food programs and services.

Looking ahead, we are coordinating with governments on emergency planning and collaborating with other Canadian food banks to ensure food is available where and when it’s needed. We are also on a quest to reduce waste and increase availability by redirecting high quality food away from landfills.

The Board of Directors deeply thanks our donors and everyone who works with us to deliver our programs and support our communities – we could not do it without you!

David Long, CEO

This past year stands as one of the most challenging year that many of us will experience in our lifetimes, with economic effects that will impact our communities for years to come.

Throughout the pandemic we have had strict health and safety protocols in place in our office, warehouse and across our distribution sites. We are fortunate not to have had a single case of COVID-19 within our team.

The generosity of our donors has been overwhelming. Because of your generous donations, we were able to support people who needed us the most during a difficult time in their lives, and we distributed more food than ever before. I hope you will take pride in the achievements we have outlined in this report.

I have the best job in the world because I get to see people’s reactions – those who receive food from us, as well as those who support us. Seeing the smiles on our clients’ faces, and understanding the impact of the work we do are the things that inspire the team here at the GVFB every single day.

Thank YOU for being a part of what we created.

How Does the Food Bank Work?

Financial Donations*
Food Donations
Cost-Analysis & Purchasing
 
Weigh & Sort*
Menu Planning
Distribution
GVFB Locations*
Community Agency Partners*
Impact Story Telling
 
*Made possible by dedicated volunteers (GVFB & Agencies)
 

Watch How We Do It

Click on the icons below to see how we distribute healthy food to those in need every day!

The Journey of an Apple (new PSA video)

Did you know that it takes a whole team of caring staff and volunteers, industrial-sized refrigeration units, warehouses, forklifts and trucks to distribute an apple from a local farm to the hands of a child? We created this video to show you how these individuals and equipment contribute to feeding people in your community, and to thank you for supporting our entire operation. It takes more than food!

Vancouver CAP Market Grand Opening

Vancouver CAP Market is located at 1405 Thornton St. Vancouver, a short 10-minute walk from the Main Street-Science World Skytrain station. With over 30 parking spots on site, our Community Agency Partners (CAPs) can easily pick up their orders each week. The 3,000 sq/ft Market has over 500 sq/ft of refrigeration storage space to keep food fresh, in addition to 2 large warehouse racking units to fit that store up to 16 pallets at once.

 

94 of our CAPs are based in Vancouver (81%). With the opening of the Vancouver CAP Market, our CAPs can save time and resources by picking up from there instead of our Burnaby Market. Our Burnaby Market is still open for those CAPs who would prefer to pick up from there. Now that we have an additional warehouse to support our CAPs, we can increase our capacity to support even more community organizations in the future.

A Day in the Life of a GVFB Driver

Join our driver, Chuck, as he takes you along to make a food delivery to one of our Community Agency Partners – the Downtown Eastside Women’s Centre. In this video, you’ll have an inside look at the wonderful work that the Downtown Eastside Women’s Centre does for their community and how the food we provide plays a role in their programs.

Meet the GVFB Team! (TikTok)

We cannot do what we do without the dedicated team at the GVFB. From the driver team to the fundraising team, everyone of us are committed to our mission of providing healthy food to those in need.

2020-2021 Highlights

Without a doubt, COVID-19 has affected every part of our operations. The silver lining was that it gave our team the opportunity to rethink everything we do. We analyzed our procedures, asked “why” a lot, actively listened to our clients, made data-driven decisions, and ultimately made changes that allowed us to do more for our clients in a sustainable way.

4

New & improved nutrition programs

22

New community agency partners

112

Organizations supported

250,000$

In gift cards distributed to families in need

Expanded & improved specialized nutrition programs

In consultation with dietitians and using our client survey data, we refreshed all 3 of our existing Children’s Programs and developed a new Seniors’ Program.

Focused on community agency partners (CAPs) & their clients

In July 2021, we brought on 22 new CAPs. We now support 112 organizations that cater to unique needs across Vancouver, Burnaby, New Westminster and the North Shore.

Supported families in need directly

Using the grocery gift cards that we receive through grocery-store till campaigns, we were able to distribute $250,000 to struggling families through our school districts at Christmas and in the spring.

Client Demographic Spotlight

Byte Sized Data

4,711

New Clients

16,133

Individual Clients Served

58%

of new GVFB clients live in Vancouver

34.6 lbs

of food per household per visit (vs. 25.8 in 2020)

Supporting Babies, Children and Seniors

Did you know that we work with dietitians to develop our monthly specialized nutrition programs? The newest one is our Seniors’ Program which we designed based on seniors’ nutritional needs. Our data shows that 17% of our clients are seniors and 65% of them are single. This is why we made it a priority to include ingredients that allow seniors to easily cook healthy meals for one.

We also updated our Baby Steps program to include more first foods for babies in their second year, and we are proud to note these changes were in response to client feedback. We changed from formula to whole milk, and added fresh items including avocadoes, eggs, yogurt and oatmeal.

Click on the icons below to see what our clients have to say about each specialized programs!

Baby Steps (click here)

(Birth - 2 Years)

“This is all for me? Thank you so much. It’s been tough taking care of my baby during a pandemic, I’m so happy that I can lean on the food bank when I need it.”

Preschooler Packs

(2-5 Years)

“Here in Vancouver, it’s really, really expensive. Our budget falls short. I’m so grateful to the Food Bank because I can now pack healthy lunches for my kids each day, so they can learn and have a bright future.”

Grade Schooler Packs

(6-12 Years)

“The food is such good quality – my kids really enjoy the pork, salmon and beans we receive, along with the tasty snacks!”

Seniors' Program

(65+ Years)

“I have issues in my lungs and am trying to keep my weight down. The healthy options in the Seniors’ Pack like the bok choy and low-sodium deli meats have been a great help!”

Targeted Support for Neighbourhoods in Need

As of July 2021, we are proud to provide food support to 112 Community Agency Partners (CAPs). These include organizations such as housing agencies, women and children’s shelters and after-school programs, who in turn provide hot meals and snacks to thousands of people each week including those struggling with homelessness.

112

Organizations supported

81%

CAPs in Vancouver

35%

More food delivered

We distributed 35% more food to our CAPs across our catchment areas this year compared to last. Putting more food into our communities means greater access to food security for people within their own neighbourhoods, and eliminates the need to travel for those with poor mobility.

As 81% of our CAPs are located in Vancouver, we wanted to improve their access to our services. We were able to find a great new location, and the 3,000 sq/ft Vancouver CAP Market has over 500 sq/ft of refrigeration to keep food fresh for our CAPs’ weekly orders. The quality and quantity of food they pick up to use in their food security programs ensures their clients leave with smiles on their faces.

A Client Story - Meet Sandrine

Sandrine moved to Vancouver from a small town in Africa in 2009. She settled in East Vancouver, married, and had three beautiful daughters. Due to Sandrine’s mobility impairment, she receives financial aid to help cover some of her family’s expenses.

When she first arrived in Vancouver, Sandrine felt isolated with no friends or extended family here. In search of community, she discovered Collingwood Neighbourhood House (CNH) in 2015. Sandrine enrolled her children in CNH’s afterschool daycare
and started receiving weekly food support from their Emergency Food Hamper program. Pre-COVID, she was also part of their Community Kitchen, a program to share skills and cook together.

CNH is one of the GVFB’s 112 Community Agency Partners (CAPs). We reach and support a broad spectrum of people in need through our CAPs. These organizations provide people with specific and unique needs in our community with easy access to food and other services. We are proud to partner with our CAPs to ensure our neighbours are taken care of regardless of where they live and their mobility levels.

When you donate money to the GVFB, this is a great example of the impact you can have on someone’s life. Whether it is a one time or a monthly donation, you can help us make a positive impact on the lives of our clients.

To You, Our Supporters, Thank you

Because of you, we were able to further enhance our nutritional programs and feed more people in need efficiently and sustainably across Vancouver, Burnaby, New Westminster and the North Shore.

Throughout the pandemic, we have been amazed by our donors’ support. From industry bulk food donations, to monetary donations and raising awareness through social media, we are so grateful for our donors’ contributions to our mission.

We were able to accomplish what we did because of our committed volunteers. Although COVID-19 restrictions limited the number of people we were able to have at our sites, we still received an overwhelming number of sign-ups from existing and new volunteers.

19,000

New donors in 2020-2021

71%

Of new donors live in Vancouver, Burnaby, New Westminster and the North Shore

54,000

Volunteer hours donated

3,111

New volunteers signed up

More Food, Better Food

Did you know that protein, dairy, grains and fresh produce are always on the menu for our clients? Our team plans the weekly menus a month in advance based on our current inventory, purchased orders and expected industry donations. Our industry donors are responsible for the many nutritious add-ons to our regular menus, such as frozen chicken/meat/fish, yogurt, and a remarkable variety of fresh fruits and vegetables.

We purchased 2,139,100 lbs of food this year compared to 1,790,593 lbs in 2019-2020. Because of the strong relationships we have with local farmers, retailers and food manufacturers, we were able to get most of this food at a wholesale price or at cost.

This is why monetary donations are so valuable to us. Your donations go a long way with our buying power!

Compared to 2019-2020, we distributed 2,128,746 lbs more food this year, that’s a 43% increase in food going to individuals and families who are struggling with food insecurity. Specifically, 3,927,882 lbs were distributed through our GVFB sites and 2,958,007 lbs were distributed through our Community Agency Partners. The remainder of the food was distributed to other BC food banks.

Top 5

Most Purchased Foods

Eggs

Milk

Canned Chicken

Apples

Oranges

Food Sustainability & Food Recovery

In addition to purchasing food from our industry partners, we also rescue and recover food in our communities in a couple of different ways.

We focus on pre-consumer excess food donations from partners like Real Canadian Superstore/Loblaws, and post-consumer donations from other partners like Costco. We monitor quality constantly, and only share food that is safe to eat, nutritious, and that we would feed to our own families.

We also work closely with ReFeed Canada, a one-of-a-kind nutrient recovery organization located in Langley BC, to recover healthy food and reduce the amount of food going into landfill.

At ReFeed’s warehouse, pallets of imperfect and unsold produce are selected, sorted and shared with local food banks to ensure it gets into the hands of people in need. ReFeed also composts the food that is no longer safe to eat, and incorporates a commercial-scale worm farm that produces microbial-rich worm castings which act as an organic fertilizer to revive and regenerate local farmlands.

This full circle, closed-loop nutrient-recovery system is a game changer, and we are so proud to work with ReFeed. Not only are they drastically reducing the amount of food going to the landfill in BC, but they are also taking a leadership role in making our food system more sustainable — an essential part of our vision!

We Are Proud of Our Team

We truly believe that taking good care of our staff and volunteers enables them to take great care of our community. To be recognized as one of Canada’s Top 100 Employers, BC’s Top Employers and a 5-star Charity by Charity Intelligence were exciting accomplishments for us, particularly during a pandemic. We have worked hard over the last few years to make the GVFB a great place to work, and we’re glad it shows!

Financial Accountability

Our Future

We have been actively building relationships at the municipal and provincial level to increase the GVFB’s profile in our communities, access further support for the work we do, and communicate our impact. The Mayors from five municipalities joined us in May to compete in our first annual Mayors’ Food Bank Challenge. They were all food security heroes, and collectively raised a whopping $515,579 in their communities! We are excited to be planning an even bigger event for next year, expanding it across BC to support all the food banks in our province.

At a national level, we work closely with other large food banks and Food Banks Canada to share knowledge and address food insecurity in the most impactful way possible. By combining our local systems and impact stories with Food Banks Canada’s governmental advocacy work, we are committed to making significant reductions to the root causes of food insecurity across Canada.

The core of our work will always be providing healthy food to those in need in our communities, but we are also truly excited to start looking at ways of expanding food recovery systems across BC to support other food banks. As our CEO, David says, “There’s no shortage of food, there’s just a distribution problem.”