As we talk with community members, we’ve noticed that there are some common myths about food banks.
Myths or stigma can stop people from accessing food or from making donations. Our Archway Food Bank is here to help anyone who needs help and aims to make the process as barrier free and welcoming as possible.
Below are some of the myths that we’d like to clear up.
7 Food Bank Myths
Myth #1: Food banks are funded by the government
The Archway Food Bank accesses some federal and provincial funding through grants administered by Food Bank’s BC and Food Banks Canada. However, the majority of our funding comes from private donors made up of individuals, organizations and foundations. We also have partnerships with grocery stores and local farmers to help recover fresh food.
Myth #2: Food banks only distribute canned or non-perishable items
This may have been true in the past, but we are now able to provide fresh vegetables, fruit, dairy (or alternatives) and protein.
Storing and distributing fresh food is more complicated and requires more space. One day we hope to be in a bigger building with even more cold storage so we can bring in and distribute even more fresh and frozen options.
Myth #3: You must be under a certain income to be allowed to access services
One of our core values is that food is a human right, so everyone can access food at the Archway Food Bank. We know that situations can come up for people of all income levels and that there is already a lot of stigma attached to asking for help, so we make the process as simple as possible. Our only requirement is that one must be an Abbotsford resident.
If someone is not an Abbotsford resident, we can offer them some options or direct them to a food bank in their own city.
Myth #4: Most of the people who use the food bank are unhoused
While some people who use the food bank are unhoused, most of the street community accesses prepared meals through other services. People who are unhoused may not be able to store or cook the food in the monthly hampers we provide.
Of the 4,500 people who currently access the Archway Food Bank each month, more than 1/3 are children. Some are seniors on fixed incomes, have medical conditions or a disability, are students or newcomers to Canada. There are also those who are fleeing abuse, have lost a job, are under-employed or not making enough even though they work full-time.
Myth #5: Food banks are only for emergencies or a last resort
While we are here for emergencies, we also serve anyone who lives in Abbotsford and expresses need. Getting help with food may allow a person to afford medication, stay housed, support their mental health or continue their education.
We trust people to manage their budgets and resources in a way that fulfills their individual needs and we are happy to refer people to additional supports as requested.
Some people use the food bank once or twice before being able to purchase their own food again whereas some people rely on the food bank all year to meet their nutrition needs. There is no time limit on our services. We welcome conversation about access to services, or programming. We are happy to help support people on their journey as they identify that want, or are ready, or able to explore development.
Myth #6: Food Options are Limited
Archway Food Bank currently offers 3 diverse food hamper choices –western, South Asian and halal. We can accommodate allergies and food restrictions for people living with a gluten sensitivity, diabetes and vegetarians.
For those who have restrictions outside of our food options, we welcome conversations about dietary restrictions and are happy to come up with creative solutions for individual needs.
Myth #7: Food Bank Hours Are Limited
While our location operates Monday to Friday, we also have 3 neighbourhood satellites with evening hours. Our neighbourhood satellites distribute the same monthly hampers as we do out of our Essendene location. We have also partnered with 15 other community agencies to increase access to food in our community.