A new study shows that many food banks across New Brunswick are unable to adequately serve their clients needs.
“About 40 per cent of the food banks are only meeting half of the demand. They would like to but they need more resources,” said researcher Dominique Pépin-Filion.
The study on “Food Security and Insecurity in New Brunswick” was conducted with the School of Food Sciences and Nutrition and Family Studies at the Université de Moncton in partnership with area foods banks and the New Brunswick Food Security Action Network.
The research shows that foods banks are short on volunteers, money and healthy food donations.
Right now, clients are only getting about half of the recommended intake of fruits and vegetables and dairy products.
Greg Doucet sits on the board of directors for food banks across the province and is working to get more grocery store chains to offer up their imperfect and slightly dated produce.
“The reality is that they have the power help people who otherwise wouldn’t be able to get fresh produce and vegetables because they just can’t afford it,” Doucet said.
He says food banks need to move away from relying on donations and start working more with local businesses. He says grocers in New Brunswick throw out 30 per cent of their produce.
“Organizations have the possibility to donate but are reluctant, either by a lawsuit or somebody being ill affected by the food. Yet there is a food charities act in Canada that would protect them if somebody would get sick or even die,” Doucet said.
Doucet says there are some businesses are donating, but it needs to happen on a much larger scale.
Perishable food storage an issue
Another issue this new study found is that smaller food banks across the province lack proper cold storage for those healthier foods, like fridges and freezers.
The solution the study suggests is to model foods banks across the province after Moncton’s new community food centre which is slated to open its doors on May 9.
The new facility will replace several smaller foods banks in the city that are closing up shop.
“The smaller, littler ones are often the ones that suffer because they have little or no storage and are in little borrowed rooms in a small building that can hardly house the food they get in general, without the extra produce which they would love to have,” Doucet said.
He says centralizing food banks also presents opportunities for centres to grow their own food – like the fenced of space at the Moncton community food centre which will become a community garden this spring.