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Food bank down to one day a week

The introduction of an electronic client card system means clients at the New Westminster food bank are served one day a week instead of two.

Up until the end of October, clients with last names beginning with A to L went to the food bank at Shiloh-Sixth Avenue Church on Tuesday mornings and those who were M to Z went on Wednesdays. According to Greater Vancouver Food Bank (GVFB) spokeswoman Kay Thody, the split was required because demand in New Westminster was so high, compared to its 14 other depots in the Lower Mainland.

However, the card system allows for the processing and distribution to be done quicker, said Thody, so the depot is currently serving on Wednesdays only, for now.

“Nobody has to line up outside, and it’s not as crowded,” said Thody of the change.

In addition, the number of people using the food banks is growing, and with lots of depots to deliver to it’s difficult keeping the food fresh. Going to one day means the GVFB isn’t handing out produce and perishables two days after they were delivered, she said.

“Without proper refrigeration and storage, time becomes of the essence,” said Thody, who estimated New Westminster serves about 500 clients a week. “We’re not dealing with lost nutrition.”

Shiloh Hospitality Project director Jaimie McEvoy, who is also a city councillor, said the change was introduced on a three-month trial basis.

“We’re taking a wait-and-see attitude, and at the end of the three months we’ll sit down and evaluate and consult with the clients and see what they think,” said McEvoy.

Thody said since the card system was introduced region-wide, it has worked “extremely efficiently” and the GVFB has been “able to have a better handle on how many people we’re serving.”

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