News Story

14,000 Community Volunteers Support Annual British Columbia Thanksgiving Food Drive

Volunteers of all ages, including members of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, came together to support the British Columbia Thanksgiving Food Drive (BCTFD).

Three-year-old Luke Steed is one of thousands of volunteers who helped with this year’s event. While delivering food drive donation bags door to door in Coquitlam, Luke said, “Mommy, do some people not have food? Let’s go get them food. They should have food.”

His mother, Gabrielle Steed, understands the importance of supporting the annual food drive. She said, “I know in my own community there are kids going to school hungry. When I hear the statistics of how many families are living in poverty and do not have three meals a day, … [I am] motivated to do something about it.”

The BCTFD began in 2008 in the city of Burnaby to assist the local food bank. Over the years, it has expanded and now thrives across the province. Over 105 community food banks serving 80 communities benefit from this annual event, assisting thousands of individuals and families throughout British Columbia.

The BCTFD is so successful year after year because of its many volunteers and community partners. This year, close to 14,000 volunteers collected and delivered food to their nearest food bank.

Ivan Ng, a science teacher at Bodwell High School in North Vancouver and a member of the Church, is a committed volunteer who helps organize and run the annual BCTFD efforts in North Vancouver. “The BCTFD has become an annual [event for our] family. … We know we are helping the local food banks and individuals in need,” noted Ng.

Communities working in partnership to increase awareness about hunger and food insecurity is powerful. Ng said, “It [is] exciting to see the progress and success of the food drive from year to year, and this year was no exception. [This year we became stronger] with the partnership of Save-On-Foods and WalMart.”

The BCTFD director, Merlin Smith, spearheaded the province-wide partnership with Save-On-Foods this year. Smith stated, “Serving with the BCTFD is a wonderful way to give service in the community, where there is a real need and where anyone can make a measured difference.”

Ted Murray, the first counsellor in the Victoria British Columbia Stake presidency, noted, “The Save-On-Foods partnership [along with other donations] will provide sufficient food to keep the food bank [going] until after Christmas. The biggest benefit to the participants is the feeling they get when they see the amount of food that is collected. They [see] they are really making a difference!”

One community partner, Inclusion Langley Society (ILS), has been supporting the food drive for several years. Teresa Griffiths, the manager of staff residential services at ILS, shared, “We hold an internal food drive in which we ask our employees, the individuals we serve, their families and friends, and our stakeholders to drop food off at our head office. This year we held a drive-through event to ‘stuff a van’ with food and delivered it to the BCTFD. We handed out candy, took photos and personally thanked every person who came.”

Across the province, political leaders also engaged to thank community members for their assistance. Surrey City Councillor Linda Annis exclaimed, “Food drives, like this one, show the remarkable spirit of people helping people. I am honoured to take part.”

Langley Mayor Val van den Broek participated in food sorting. She said, “Citizens in our communities have experienced many additional challenges since the pandemic began over 18 months ago. More people than ever before have had to rely on food banks, which have been working hard to keep up the ever-increasing demand. That’s why this year’s annual event is more important than ever!”

Smith summarized the importance of the BCTFD: “There is a fantastic feeling of satisfaction and reward in assisting others. … There is a real feeling of personal worth when [volunteers] give up a few hours of their time to help others and know that they are making a difference.”

Frank Deyell, the Canada Vancouver Communication Council JustServe specialist and a volunteer with the Richmond British Columbia Food Bank for the past eight years, added, “As I dropped over 2,000 bags and flyers to homes in our community, … I pondered the problem [of food insecurity and the discrepancies between the rich and poor]. I don’t have the solution, yet I know that by helping support and run the BCTFD, in at least a small way, starts to narrow that gap between abundance and need.”

Other officials and partners who joined with Church members to assist with the food drive were Member of Parliament Marc Dalton (for Pitt Meadows–Maple Ridge), Maple Ridge City Councillor Ahmed Yousef, Surrey Food Bank executive director Feez Jaffer, Sources Food Bank program manager Jaye Murray and White Rock Food Drive director Ralph Zucker.

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