Rising demand at food bank leads to tomato call

file photo supplied

Whether they’re heirlooms or still on the vine, if they’re cherry, sauce, paste, fried green or bright red beefsteak, the food bank wants your tomatoes.

With demand rising and donations waning, SHARE Family & Community Services recently put out a call for all types of the all-purpose vegetables.

“Part of what’s great about tomatoes is they’re a little bit culturally universal,” explained Claire MacLean, CEO of SHARE.


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Tomatoes can play a key role in curries, pasta and myriad other recipes, MacLean noted. The need is also particularly great, she added.

“We certainly find that the spring and the summer are the lowest time for our donations,” she said.

But while donations are low, the number of Tri-Cities residents who need a bundle of food to get through the week seems to be growing. MacLean estimated that demand is up about 40 percent compared to the same time last year.

Besides donations, the society buys food including fresh produce and recovers items from grocery stores that would otherwise end up in the landfill. However, it’s still a challenge to meet the demand, MacLean noted.

“We have so many new clients coming every week that we want to make sure we’re able to give people a really substantial wagon full of food every week.”

The demand is evident at food banks across the region.

After initially providing food for 10 families, the Cultural Food Pantry at Coquitlam Alliance Church quickly discovered they couldn’t meet the demand.

“Probably three weeks later we were delivering to 175 families,” said House of Omeed executive director Ahmad Zeividavi.

Currently, approximately 200 families use the modified food bank each month, filling up shopping carts with as much as $175 worth of groceries. There are another 100 people on the waitlist.

In Port Coquitlam, the People’s Pantry is feeding about 300 hungry people across the Tri-Cities each week. In the fall of 2021, they were giving out about 60 hampers per week. One year later, they were handing out 130 bundles each week.

For more information about SHARE, click here.

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