Charity Intelligence aims to provide Canadian donors with information to help them make informed and intelligent giving decisions about where their donations will have the greatest impact. Charity Intelligence rates charities on financial transparency, funding needs, cost-efficiency and donor accountability. The following information is a summary of the items upon which the Greater Vancouver Food Bank is assessed.
In Canada, more than one in eight individuals experience food insecurity. Food insecurity is described as the inability to acquire or consume an adequate diet quality or sufficient quantity of food in socially acceptable ways, or the uncertainty that one will be able to do so. Experiencing food insecurity at an early age is associated with poorer overall physical and mental health.
The Greater Vancouver Food Bank was set up as a temporary relief to the hunger crisis in 1983 and has grown significantly in the past three decades. Today the GVFB provides assistance to over 28,000 people weekly, 25% of whom are children.
We meet community need through multiple distribution locations including Community Food Hubs, community kitchens, food skills training workshops and partnerships with over 75 Community Partner Agencies located in Vancouver, Burnaby, New Westminster and North Vancouver.
The GVFB receives, purchases and distributes approximately 4.2 million pounds of food each year. Our size, scale, and unique position in the local food system, and partnerships with producers and industry enables us to purchase $3 worth of food for every $1 donated. This buying power allows us to maximize the impact of our donor’s generous contributions.
While we continue to provide assistance to help address the immediate needs of our community, we also recognize that emergency food as a stand-alone is not a long-term solution. In 2013, we completed the organization’s first strategic plan and are moving beyond food in isolation into a model that helps foster a path towards self-sufficiency. Our goal is to build strong connected communities through the power of food because food is a basic human right.
Fiscal Year July 1-June 30, 2019
Food Procurement & Distribution
Outputs- Thanks to our relationships with food retailers and producers, the Greater Vancouver Food Bank re-distributes perishable and non-perishable food items with food quality measured at 74% based on rankings established by a registered dietitian in accordance with guidelines set out by BC School Food Guidelines to Community Food Hubs and Agencies.
Outcomes- Thanks to the increase in food quality and specifically non-perishable food items from industry partners, surplus food is being diverted from compost and meeting and exceeding agency needs. In addition, agencies are reporting improvements in mental and physical health of their clients and participants along with an increased sense of dignity.
Food Quality Ranking and Definitions
First Choice– Nutritious foods and beverages that meet strong nutrition criteria with minimal ingredients such as fresh produce, brown rice, 100% natural peanut butter, milk, lean meats and eggs. The Greater Vancouver Food Bank prioritizes foods in this category.
Second Choice– Nutritious foods and beverages that are promoted at the Greater Vancouver Food Bank such as pasta, white rice, no salt added canned beans, fruits and vegetables, low salt canned fish and meats. Food categories with more prepared foods have reasonably strong, instead of very strong nutrition criteria.
Sometimes Choice– Foods and beverages with the highest fat, sodium, or sugar to eat in a healthy relationship with other food such as pasta sauce, fruit juice, granola bars and white bread. GVFB does not encourage food donations in this ranking.
Other Choice– Foods and beverages with the highest fat, sodium, or sugar to eat in a healthy relationship with other food such as candy, pop, instant noodles, canned soup, deli meats. GVFB does not encourage food donations in this ranking.
Unranked Items– Household items, such as toiletries and plastic bags, and food not meant for human consumption, such as pet food.
Community Food Hubs
Over 37% of individuals accessing Greater Vancouver Food Bank Community Food Hubs are seniors; 21% of households accessing foods have one member living with physical disability; 25% of those accessing foods are children.
The Greater Vancouver Food Bank serves over 70,000Lbs of fresh and non-perishable foods to more than 8,300 people every week (except government cheque issue week) though Community Food Hubs. Food service is offered to individuals and families experiencing food insecurity. The Community Food Hub model works to transform food bank service offering members enhanced choice, expanded access to community resources, and less wait times. Community Food Hubs are intended to make visiting the Food Bank a transparent, welcoming, and dignified experience. We are grateful for the generosity of the Neighbourhood Houses, Community Centers, Churches and social centers that offer their space week in and week out to make Community Food Hubs a possibility!
Outputs– Registered food bank members have direct access to a 2-3 day supplement of perishable and non-perishable food items. Food is provided through Community Food Hubs located across our catchment cities three weeks per month to individuals and families. Food Bank members receive 4-5 fresh food items in addition to 7-8 non-perishable items based on the size of their family. The Community Food Hubs also provide non-food items such as diapers and depending on the location auxiliary resources like registered dietitians, library representatives and food skills training.
Outcomes- Relieving food insecurity and providing quality food support in a dignified, choice-focused environment. Connecting food bank members with their community in turn working towards our goal of building strong connected communities through the power of food.
“What I appreciate the most is how welcoming the volunteers are.” GVFB client
“Thanks very much to give time to explain my opinion and it is helpful food bank for me.” GVFB client
Community Agency Partners (CAPs)
The GVFB offers support to over 75 Community Agency Partners (CAP’s) through our Agency program. Partner Agencies include supportive housing centres, neighborhood houses, community meal programs, school meal programs, transition houses, First Nations community centers, settlement service providers and many others.
Priority is given to agencies that support individuals facing multiple barriers to nutrition and wellness, as well as communities that are not accessing our Community Food Hubs.
GVFB supports partner agencies offering kitchen equipment, workshops and trainings and nutritious food for the programs they facilitate.
Outputs- Perishable and non-perishable food, kitchen equipment and training is supplied to organizations to support meal, snack and grocery supplementation programming.
Outcomes – Provide organizations with high-quality, fresh and perishable food items to support food-based programming allowing agencies to focus resources on staffing and core programs rather than sourcing and paying food items.
Thanks to the increase in food quality and specifically non-perishable food items from industry partners, surplus food is being diverted from compost and meeting and exceeding agency needs. In addition, agencies are reporting improvements in mental and physical health of their clients and participants along with an increased sense of dignity.
Experience with food security is being addressed, although not solved.
“The program leaders have noticed a huge behavioural change taking place since fresh fruits and veg, yogurt, cheese and meats were introduced. The usual spike in energy followed by lethargy is now a much more sustained level of energy thanks to less sugary snacks and more whole foods. Ability to focus on homework and activities has improved.” Gillian and Gavin, After School Program, Hastings Elementary School
Food Skills and Education
We recognize that handing out food in isolation is not a long term solution and so have developed a collaborative, community-focused model of training that can start to address some of the long term challenges that many of us face.
Building food skills and starting conversations around food is a major part of this strategy. We run a range of workshops that focus on:
Outputs- Community Kitchens, food demonstrations and a variety of workshops facilitated by Greater Vancouver Food Bank staff both onsite and off to promote capacity building, confidence with food and job ready skills.
Outcomes- Food education workshop attendees report the ability to successfully apply for food-relation employment, to feed their families on a budget with food distributed from food bank Community Food Hubs, and increased sense of community by sharing and learning in a dignified, barrier-free environment.
” We are so happy to receive your E-mail and we like the pictures sent very much.
Yesterday was the best day of our living in Vancouver.
Everything was excellent! Bakery is really an art and craftsmanship we are interest in.
Thank you very much again. We are looking forward to seeing you next time.” GVFB member after attending a Baking 101 Workshop
Milestones for the Future
- We provide food to people who can’t afford to access healthy food elsewhere. We have a responsibility to provide the healthiest food possible to a population of individuals who experience higher rates of chronic diseases like diabetes, anxiety and heart disease. The GVFB is committed to maintaining our high standard for accepting and distributing nutritious, perishable and non-perishable at a level between 70-80% food quality for fiscal year 2020.
- We will strive to increase the number of community partner agencies the GVFB supports from 76-90 agencies in fiscal 2020.
- We will aim to improve access to direct food support to clients at our Community Food Hubs by increasing the number of hours from 1200 hours of service and shifting the times of days to better meet the needs of working individuals and others based on client feedback.
- Excerpts below from the 2018 article “Examining Patterns of Food Bank Use Over Twenty-Five Years in Vancouver, Canada” Black, J.L. & Seto, D. pages 11-12
- Food banks have grown substantially in Canada since the 1980s but little is known about patterns or predictors of engagement including frequency or duration of service use. This study examined food bank program data from a large food bank organization in Vancouver, Canada, finding that between January 1992 and June 2017, at least 116,963 individuals made over 2 million food bank visits. The majority of members were engaged for a short time and came for relatively few visits, but 9% of members engaged in longer-term episodic or ongoing usage over several years, accounting for 65% of all visits. Results from cluster and regression analyses found that documented health and mobility challenges, larger household size, primary income source, and older age were predictors of higher frequency and duration of service usage. Findings add to growing critical examinations of the “emergency food system” highlighting the need for better understanding of the broader social policies influencing food bank use.
“Results from cluster and regression analyses found that documented health and mobility challenges, larger household size, primary income source, and older age were predictors of higher frequency and duration of service usage.” Black, J.L. & Seto, D. Voluntas (2018). https://doi.org/10.1007/s11266-018-0039-2
“compared to [clients]with income sources related to recent employment or student loans, members relying on disability benefits and pensions were far more likely to remain engaged with the food bank, were engaged for a longer time (3.2 and 1.3 years longer, respectively) and netted more total visits.” Black, J.L. & Seto, D. Voluntas (2018). https://doi.org/10.1007/s11266-018-0039-2
“Moreover, those with reported mobility issues stayed engaged for over 6 years longer than members without noted mobility challenges, and accrued more than three times as many total visits” Black, J.L. & Seto, D. Voluntas (2018). https://doi.org/10.1007/s11266-018-0039-2
“Each additional household member sharing a [client’s] food supplement was associated with approximately 10 months of increased elapsed food bank engagement and 33% more total visits” Black, J.L. & Seto, D. Voluntas (2018). https://doi.org/10.1007/s11266-018-0039-2
Across all models, number of sharing members remained a significant predictor of increased usage and lower likelihood of disengagement [from the food bank]” Black, J.L. & Seto, D. Voluntas (2018). https://doi.org/10.1007/s11266-018-0039-2