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Urgent call to find new home for Tri-City food recovery program

Last year, The People's Pantry Food Recovery Society handed out 65,000 kg of perishable food to seniors, single parents and at-risk youth.

A food recovery program that helps about 300 Tri-City residents a week may be forced to fold it is doesn’t find a new home.

The People’s Pantry needs about 1,500 sq. ft. in a local commercial or industrial building to run its operations.

Alice Hale, acting executive director, told the Tri-City News today, Jan. 24, that the Pantry requires room for coolers and freezers, and enough space to sort the donations and package them into hampers.

The food is picked up by some 50 volunteers at Tri-City grocery stores, such as Costco, Save-On-Foods and the Real Canadian Superstore, while the hampers are collected in-person by the families in need.

The society’s urgent call to find a home comes as its current space, the Elks Hall in Port Coquitlam, is about to be razed.

Hale said the society, which has used Elks Hall since 2020, is grateful the developer has allowed it to stay for so long.

Still, it has to go by mid-February.

Hale also thanked the City of Port Coquitlam for covering the rent for the past four years.

Ideally, the new location should be affordable — no more than $2,500 a month — be in the Tri-Cities and close to transit.

It could be a temporary spot or shared, too. “We are very flexible and could even re-arrange our distribution times.”

PoCo Coun. Glenn Pollock, a People’s Pantry co-founder, said food waste is “staggering” in the Tri-Cities and, besides feeding residents, one of the group’s mandates is to keep perishable goods out of the landfill.

Over the past year-and-a-half, he’s been trying to source an empty warehouse to move the operations, but with no luck.

Last year, it handed out 65,000 kilograms of recovered food to seniors, single parents and at-risk youth; there is a wait list.

“Half the people we feed are children,” Hale said.

“The need is great … With the rising cost of food and housing, and inflation, things are really tight. People need to eat.”

Do you have a commercial or industrial space to lease to The People’s Pantry? You can email [email protected] or call 236-867-7377.