Nafeesa KarimAnchor / Multi-skilled Journalist, CTV News Vancouver

@nafeesakarim Contact

Published Monday, March 30, 2020 5:02PM PDTLast Updated Monday, March 30, 2020 6:56PM PDT



VANCOUVER — The threat of the novel coronavirus has forced the Greater Vancouver Food Bank to make drastic changes to the way it distributes much-needed food.

The organization usually uses 12 different community centres and neighbourhood hubs around Vancouver, Burnaby, North Vancouver and New Westminster to distribute food to around 9,000 people each week.

But due to physical distancing requirements during the COVID-19 pandemic, those sites have been forced to close.

“It’s been crazy, I don’t even know what day it is,” said David Long, CEO of the Greater Vancouver Food Bank.

The organization has been scrambling to find central locations to distribute food that are large enough to allow for physical distancing.

A plan to set up at Rogers Arena fell through, but late Sunday, the Food Bank was able to secure the vacant Queen Elizabeth Theatre, where food will be distributed on Tuesdays and Wednesdays from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m.

Long said the Vancouver Canucks have also stepped up to lend the organization some mats that the team usually uses to cover the ice to protect the theatre’s marble floors.

The Food Bank will also distribute food at its warehouse in Burnaby, along with North Shore Neighbourhood House, Mount Pleasant Community Centre and Tipperary Park in New Westminster.

Perhaps one bright spot during the pandemic is that more volunteers have signed up to help sort and package donations, as many are currently off work.

“People have really answered the call,” said the Food Bank’s warehouse operations manager Mike Trelenberg.

“In a time where things are so negative right now, and everybody is so scared it seems, it’s kind of nice to come in here some days and see a lot of people that want to give so selflessly.”