Kellie Tennant is questioning food bank policy of not giving hampers to the homeless. Phil Melnychuk/The News Kellie Tennant is questioning food bank policy of not giving hampers to the homeless. Phil Melnychuk/The News

Compassion of Maple Ridge food bank questioned

Current B.C. policy is not to give food bank hampers to those without an address.

Two advocates for the poor are questioning the Food Banks B.C. policy of denying hampers to those who have no fixed address.

Others have asked the same question of the Friends in Need Food Bank in Maple Ridge.

Chris Bossley and Kellie Tennant have both sent e-mails to the food bank association asking for an explanation and justification of such a policy.

“It just doesn’t seem very compassionate,” said Tennant.

“The … policy just seems to be kicking the most vulnerable people when they’re down. It seems discriminatory, to me.”

Tennant is a family mediator and has been a long-term donor to food banks.

“I’m not angry at them. I just want them to sort it out.”

She said other food banks provide food to those who are living on the street and questions the policy because it’s based on a few instances of littering or people selling the contents of their food hampers.

“If we don’t know how to do that, let’s consult with other food banks and see what they do. You don’t discriminate against a whole group of people because of one or two instances.”

She puts some of the reluctance to the opposition of some in the community to the homeless or drug addicts.

But Tennant says if people have enough to eat, there will be less trouble.

“If people spend all day just trying to find food, they then they have no time to find housing,” or support, or treatment or doctors or any other help.

Tennant moved here recently and saw the anger towards the homeless people in Maple Ridge.

“So I just thought I would pitch in and do what I could do, right.”

Laura Lansink, executive-director of Food Banks B.C., replied to both e-mails, plus another asking the same questions, and explained that giving out hampers using a “no-barrier” model, to those without proof of address, is rare in B.C.

“Especially in urban areas, the requirements for proof of address is common.”

One reason for that is to ensure that locally donated food goes to local residents. Another reason is that street people may not have the facilities for cooking the food.

However, food banks are encouraged to give out any non-perishable food, or food that doesn’t require cooking, to the homeless.

She reiterated that the Friends in Need Food Bank donates food to two local organizations in Maple Ridge that provide meal programs.

The policies don’t mean that food banks don’t respect such individuals, said Lansink.

Friends in Need Food Bank executive-director Mary Robson said the food bank is now working with seven outreach agencies, including one for seniors, that connect with people who are on the street.

Those agencies can help people find homes or get help and also distribute food packs.

The food bank is now trying to schedule those groups to find out where the gaps are, Robson said.

“We have a great social network out there. They’re the ones that know best how to identify the need and how to deal with it.

“People can come to us when they’re in residence, and if they’re not in residence, then we work with the agencies that are working with them.”

Just Posted

MRSS places third in senior team rankings at Fraser Valley track championships

School qualifies 16 for provincials, starting Thursday in Kelowna.

Pitt Meadows blueberry farm ordered to pay $131,000 to foreign workers

Golden Eagle Blueberry Farms also penalized $500

Ridge search team finds lost children

Brother, sister were stranded overnight on Burke Mountain

LETTERS: ‘New route to 240th St. not so apparent’

Thornhill is ‘old urban reserve’

Killer of Calgary mother, daughter gets no parole for 50 years

A jury found Edward Downey guilty last year in the deaths of Sara Baillie, 34, and five-year-old Taliyah Marsman

Ottawa spending $24.5M to research on health benefits, risks of pot use

$390,000 will fund two cannabis public awareness

50 trip planning kiosks coming to TransLink routes

Kiosk will allow riders to see schedules and alerts

Crackdown on money laundering does not include federal public inquiry: minister

An independent report commissioned concluded $7.4 billion was laundered in B.C. last year

Trudeau’s action plan on climate change brings B.C. politician out of retirement

Terry Lake, a former B.C. health minister, is running for federal office in Kamloops-Thompson-Cariboo

Survey finds minimal progress in Canadian military’s fight against sexual misconduct

1.6 per cent of regular-force members — 900 military personnel — reported having been victims of sexual assaults over past year

Raptors beat Bucks 120-102 to even series at 2-2

Lowry pours in 25 as Toronto moves within two games of NBA Finals

Body of missing snowmobiler recovered from Great Slave Lake

Police confirm the body is that of one of three missing snowmobilers

Toddler seriously injured after falling from Okanagan balcony

RCMP are investigating after a two-year-old boy fell from the balcony of an apartment in Kelowna

Most Read