The Surrey Food Bank has been going non-stop since the COVID-19 pandemic hit.
Executive Director Feezah Jaffer says they see 20 – 30 new people registering to receive food each day.
People panicking on how they’re going to fill their fridge and cupboards, many of them recently laid off.
“The demographics have changed dramatically in the last three weeks,” says Jaffer. “We’re seeing a lot more people calling saying ‘I lost my job. Can I register? Or I had a business and the business is down to nothing, can I register’? People who were making $3,00 – $4,000 a month are now saying ‘I never thought I’d need the service, but I need it now.”
On average, Jaffer says they serve 175 families a day.
Rather than letting people select their own food, the food bank is now handing out pre-built hampers with canned goods, fresh vegetables, dairy products, and other essentials to last families two weeks at a time.
With only one person allowed in the centre at a time to respect social distancing rules, Jaffer advises people show up early and with extra time on their hands (insert joke here) as lineups can get extremely long.
The good news – all Surrey residents are eligible to receive a hamper.
“In the past you had to show your income. Now, as long as you have government issued ID and a permanent Surrey or North Delta address, can come down in person and register”
Jaffer admits operating with only five volunteers, compared to their usual 40, has been extremely stressful at times.
“Everyday is different, we’re adapting everyday. We clean as much as we can every hour, get people through quick and keep the physical distancing timelines, I can not say enough good things about the people we have here. My staff have been amazing, I can not give them enough praise.”
Seeing tens of thousands of dollars pour in from the community has also helped keep her spirits up.
“We’ve received $150,000 in online donations since the pandemic hit from everyday people in Surrey wanting to give back to the community or people wanting to give a donation in honour of someone they know in self-isolation. Just this week I had a local law firm donate $5,000. It’s just been amazing.”
The centre is also set to receive a chunk of the money celebrity couple Ryan Reynolds and Blake Lively recently donated to Food Banks Canada to help families during the COVID-19 pandemic, among other corporate donations.
Then there’s local restaurants.
The Panorama Big Ridge Brewing Co is one of half a dozen restaurants and food suppliers who donated all their fresh produce, dairy products, and other food to the food bank to ensure it doesn’t go to waste.
Jaffer says the the food bank is still low on some goods – in particular canned protein (fish / meat), pasta, pasta sauce, and baby formula.
Anyone wishing to donate can drop off their perishable goods at any Surrey / North Delta fire hall where they’re picked up daily.
Goods can also be dropped off at the food bank between 9am – 1:45pm Monday through Friday, with money orders being accepted at surreyfoodbank.org
Please note – hamper pick-up is 9am – 1pm Monday to Friday.
The food bank will be closed Good Friday (April 10th) and Easter Monday (April 13th)
You must register on site in order to receive a hamper (Address is 10732 City Pkwy, Surrey) and all hampers must be picked up in person.