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B.C. minister makes $300K food security announcement in Coquitlam

Sheila Malcolmson was in the Tri-Cities today, Feb. 6, to unveil money for a food bank and to help load food hampers.
Sheila Malcolmson loads up hampers at a Coquitlam church on Feb. 6, 2024.

More than two dozen new Canadians stood in line for a food hamper this afternoon, Feb. 6, in Coquitlam as B.C.’s minister for social development and poverty announced funding for the program.

Minister Sheila Malcolmson joined Coquitlam Mayor Richard Stewart and volunteers to help load perishables and other goods into boxes for the Immigrant Link Centre Society (ILCS), which is now feeding 4,500 residents in 11 municipalities across the Lower Mainland every two weeks.

The $300,000 boost from Malcolmson’s ministry to expand the food bank service into the Tri-Cities was more than ILCS program director Igor Bjelac had hoped for, he told reporters at a press conference outside The Tapestry Mundy Park Church on Austin Avenue in Coquitlam, where there is an ILCS space.

Bjelac said the program has been running for the past eight years in Metro Vancouver to help people with low incomes, as well as single moms and seniors; it currently has a wait list in every community.

The extra cash will be used to start a community kitchen and for food programs in School District 43, among other things, he said.

Malcolmson said the non-profit group caters to a multicultural demographic, providing more than one million kilograms of food — including Halal and vegetarian goods — a year, for free, through their 25 distribution places.

Bjelac said the perishables are recycled by such grocers as IGA, Save-On-Foods, FreshMart and T&T. Food also comes in from Second Harvest Canada, a food rescue and delivery organization.

The money announced today is part of the $200-million investment made last March by the provincial government to bolster food security.

The program in Coquitlam started at the Vanier Centre, where food was delivered once a week to the families of 30 students attending the English as a Second Language training program.

To volunteer with the food distribution program in the Tri-Cities, you can visit ILCS’ website.