A CBC Vancouver News feature that talks about:
“It’s literally as the name says… a food bank on wheels.”

Table of Contents

Food bank for single parents with disabilities seeks government funding.

Food Bank on Wheels says it hasn’t been able to get funding through umbrella food bank organization

Fruits and vegetables are piled into a cardboard box.
The Pitt Meadows-based Food Bank on Wheels registered as a charity in 2018. Since then, its volunteers say their membership request to join the province’s umbrella group, Food Banks B.C., have been turned down twice. (Evan Mitsui/CBC)

Social Sharing

  • Facebook
  • X
  • Email
  • Reddit
  • LinkedIn

A food bank that caters to single parents with disabilities says Food Banks B.C. has turned down its call for help.

Those who run Food Bank on Wheels, which offers home delivery of groceries, say they want access to government funding. To do this, their organization needs to become a member of Food Banks B.C., the province’s food bank umbrella organization.

Under B.C.’s food bank funding model, the province gives money to Food Banks B.C., which then regularly distributes it to its member organizations. Non-member organizations can apply for occasional funding.

“We got denied once and then we tried another time and we also got denied that time, pretty much just because of the fact that they said that there was already another food bank in the area,” said James Silcox, Food Bank on Wheels vice-president.

Specialized service

Brittanie Lawrence, a single mom of two who lives in Port Coquitlam, said that having a food bank deliver groceries to her house is a huge help.

“With my seizures it was really hard. There was times where I couldn’t even walk at all,” said Lawrence.

Food Bank on Wheels, a Christian organization, operates out of a rented basement suite in Pitt Meadows and serves more than 100 families per week. Registered as a charity in 2018, it operates solely through community donations. To receive government funding, it would need to become a member of Food Banks B.C.

The small, specialized food bank isn’t the only food bank experiencing difficulty accessing this funding. Delta’s Guru Nanak Food Bank has also tried to become a member, but was denied, having been told it was because there’s already a food bank in the area.

‘Problematic’ funding model

The province’s model for funding food banks has been criticized by at least one expert.

“I think this funding model is enormously problematic,” said Graham Riches, a social work professor emeritus at the University of British Columbia, who spent decades researching food banks around the world.

“Why are we using public funds, sending this to Food Banks B.C. for them to distribute, when this is taxpayers’ money?”

Food Banks B.C. said in a statement said that it’s currently conducting a comprehensive review of its membership model. The review will be completed by the end of the year, it says.

Previously, Food Banks B.C. executive director Dan Huang-Taylor told CBC News that demand for food banks has never been higher, with 98,000 people accessing food banks in March 2024.

“The sheer number of hunger-relief agencies that have cropped up has required that we look at our agency model and our membership model and look for a way to create a stronger network … by broadening and reaching more agencies and therefore reaching more British Columbians in need,” he said.

In the meantime, the umbrella organization says Food Bank on Wheels is welcome to call again and talk about membership, which was encouraging news for the Food Bank on Wheels volunteers.

With files from Belle Puri