(in reverse chronology)
As of April 18th, 2020
We continue to await openness and transparency from the GVFB in their actions, and advocate for truly dignified food access for community members.
At this time, the GVFB has not issued a public statement acknowledging their attempted registration changes and which policies they are adopting. Their policies are currently changing weekly – we continue to receive concerning reports about ongoing barriers to registration. While the most restrictive GVFB registration practices around proof of income are now voluntary during the pandemic (only after significant community pressure), the question is for how long? There has been no public commitment to stop this policy.
Moreover, the GVFB continues to lack transparency and accountability in their decisions. Instead of engaging in dialogue with the community, they have removed their intake policy information from their website and now only state, “We will ask you some questions to ensure you receive the right food.”
In removing information, people do not know what information they should bring to register, both during the pandemic and after. This includes people without proof of address, who only receive a snack bag. In addition, previous information on how to pick up for another client has been removed.
The GVFB is showing more concern for public image than for the wellbeing of the clients they are supposed to be serving.
As of April 9th, 2020
GVFB has removed mention of the re-registration process from its public messaging.
However, although the GVFB website now states that no one will be turned away without food, those with no-fixed address are still prevented from registration and given a snack bag of a few granola bars.
Keep up the pressure!
As previous, we are continuing to call on the GVFB Board of Directors for:
- Removal of the registration and re-registration process during the COVID-19 pandemic (including for those with no fixed address); with an inclusive and transparent assessment of the process to be conducted after the pandemic involving clients, volunteers and partners
- Reestablish the food hub network closed by the GVFB immediately to allow people to access food in their communities. (On March 23, the GVFB closed the 9 Food Hubs without providing any notice to the thousands of people who accessed these neighbourhood locations regularly.)
As of April 5th, 2020:
The GVFB is still re-registering clients on a voluntary basis, while publicly stating they have ‘paused’ re-registration requirements for proof of income. Further, the new strict requirements for proof of address and valid ID are now required to access full food service. Doctor’s notes are also required for people picking up food for other registered clients, at a time when the Province and Doctors of BC have said there is no need for sick notes. The GVFB continues to disregard the BC Human Rights Commission recommendations to further reduce registration barriers during the pandemic.
The GVFB has closed the majority of its food hub sites on false pretenses, moving from 13 to 5 locations. In a recent interview on CTV, David Long, GVFB’s CEO, said that the need for new locations was because of regular distribution sites being closed. This is not true, community partners hosting food hubs have stated their commitment to keeping doors open: They do not want to send seniors or people with compromised health across town on public transit to access essential goods. The city and the health authorities have urged GVFB to reopen Community Food Hub locations.
There has been no GVFB commitment to establishing open and transparent decision-making processes that include the voices of clients, volunteers and community partners. There has also been no public accountability for this widely criticized decision-making to date.
In light of the rapidly evolving landscape, we call on the GVFB Board of Directors for:
- Removal of the registration and re-registration process during COVID-19; with an inclusive and transparent assessment of the process to be conducted after the pandemic involving clients, volunteers and partners
- Reestablishment of the food hub network immediately to allow people to access food in their communities.
As of April 1st, 2020:
The GVFB has modified the registration process and paused the re-registration requirement for existing clients during the COVID-19 Health Crisis.
REGISTRATION FOR EXISTING CLIENTS: Proof of income, Valid ID and proof of address is required. However, there is currently no time limit to produce these documents.
REGISTRATION FOR NEW CLIENTS: Income verification is waived during the COVID-19 health crisis. Valid ID and proof of address is still required. Those who cannot provide required documentation will be unable to receive full food support.
Those without a fixed address can not register to receive food. Individuals without a fixed address may receive a bag of granola bars.
Food Banks BC received $3 million from the province for COVID relief (https://www.citynews1130.com/2020/03/29/food-bank-grant-covid-19/).
This funding intended to address increased need while reducing barriers for food support. The province has asked that food banks work to reduce barriers to food access by promoting “drive-through and delivery opportunities, larger hampers, increased home delivery capability and removes the requirement to present identification”.
The closure of neighbourhood food banks was a GVFB decision despite community partners’ commitment to keeping their doors open to ensure accessibility. South Vancouver Neighbourhood House and Kiwassa Neighbourhood House have posted statements to this effect.
As of March 30, 2020
The GVFB has announced two Vancouver locations that will be open this week: Queen Elizabeth Theatre and Mount Pleasant Community Centre.
As of March 29, 2020:
The GVFB has reduced the number of locations for community food access from 13 neighbourhood locations to 3, with no Vancouver location scheduled the week of March 30.
This decision increases the health risk and exposure for clients who now must travel to different communities—many using mass transit—and creates larger crowds of people during the COVID-19 pandemic.
No direct communications were shared with current clients who regularly visit these neighbourhood locations. Many will likely make the rainy trip only to find a closed hub with no forewarning.
The GVFB continues to roll out new registration requirements during the COVID-19 crisis. Registration for service can now only be done at the GVFB Head Office in Burnaby.
This move is in direct opposition to the recommendations from the BC Human Rights Commissioner:
“Where service providers are providing essential and emergency services, such as homeless shelters and emergency food services, they should consider implementing low or no barrier measures, for example by removing registration requirements and providing fast pick-up options for food access.”
The GVFB has limited its policy to allow people to pick up for other registered clients with mobility or other difficulties.
This policy is key to supporting the many clients at the GVFB, who are elderly, living with chronic health conditions, and have other challenges that limit their mobility or time availability. It allowed a mother to pick up food for her daughter’s family, a younger neighbour for the senior upstairs, or simply, a friend for a friend who was sick that day, at work, or faced barriers to being in crowds of people. A completed and signed form was required to confirm the need. New policies mean now only a medical reason is allowed, and a doctor’s note is required. The maximum time the note is valid is 6 months, after which they would need to provide a new doctor’s note.
According to public pledges, the GVFB has received an unprecedented number of donations, on top of its highest-ever annual revenue last year. Despite this increase in revenue, the GVFB has decided NOT to provide any additional food support to clients. This means the GVFB has:
- Closed all locations for food pickup last week from March 23-27
- No community locations open in the City of Vancouver from March 30-Apr 3, (meaning two full weeks with no place for people to access food during the pandemic, despite community partners offering space)
- Cancelled their ‘emergency bag’ food supplement program. This program allowed clients to receive additional food once per calendar year.
- Not increased the amount of food available, keeping a 2-day food supply with limited produce or fresh food despite emergency conditions
- Denied full access and registration to many individuals without housing