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B.C. funnels $15m to food banks

Money is part of previously announced funding that stemmed from last year's $5.7b surplus
Greater Vancouver Food Bank CEO David Long peers across a shelf at his food bank | Chung Chow

With wildfires forcing tens of thousands of people to evacuate homes across the province, amping up the need for food at food banks, the B.C. government chose today to announce that $15 million of previously announced funding will make its way to Food Banks BC.

Food Banks BC redistributes government funding, and donations from large corporations, to actual food banks across the province.

Today's $15 million in funding comes from the $200 million that Premier David Eby announced March 7 to support food banks as well as overall agricultural production. 

Eby said at the time that he intended the money to be used by food banks to improve infrastructure, by adding commercial coolers, for example, and not for operational purposes, because the money was a one-time grant possible because the government was running an expected $5.7 billion surplus in the 2022-2023 fiscal year.

He made a flurry of funding announcements in March because if he had not designated money for specific purposes by the end of March, it would by law have to go to help pay down the province's approximately $107.9 billion debt

Greater Vancouver Food Bank CEO David Long told BIV in March said he hoped that some of the $200 million that trickles down to his organization could be able to be spent on buying food, in addition to infrastructure, because the need for food is so great.

The government may have been listening to Long, given that today's news release for the $15 million in funding came with the headline: "More people will get nutritious food with new funding."

Greater Vancouver Food Bank sees rise in private donations

The Greater Vancouver Food Bank (GVFB) has been attracting private donations in addition to government ones. 

Real estate developer and Beedie owner Ryan Beedie and his wife Cindy Beedie threw a philanthropic party at Stanley Park's Malkin Bowl on Aug. 12, which raised $2 million for that food bank – the largest single donation ever to the GVFB, according to Long. Bryan Adams and Blondie were two performers at the party.

The Beedies required each of the approximately 3,000 people at the event to donate to the GVFB, and then double matched all money raised. 

Two of the biggest individual donors at the event were Rob Fiorvento, who is managing partner at the development company Beedie, and Seaspan Marine executive chair Kyle Washington, with each giving approximately $50,000, according to Beedie.

The GVFB has yet to post financial statements for its fiscal year that ended June 30. 

In the fiscal year that ended June 30, 2022, it generated $29.3 million in revenue, down 10.9 per cent from the $32.9 million in revenue the previous year.

Operational expenses in the year that ended in summer 2022 amounted to $22.56 million, up nearly 9.4 per cent from the year that ended in mid-2021.

Other costs involved fundraising, advertising, administration, leases and other items. 

Overall, the GVFB's 2022 financial report shows that the organization had a $2.9 million surplus in the year that ended last summer, compared with a $9.3 million surplus in the year that ended in the middle of 2021.

Surpluses “go back into supporting future demand,” Long told BIV earlier this year. 

He added that the 2020-2021 fiscal year was particularly good operationally because there was a spike in donations. 

Long said before the big donation from the Beedie party that private donations were up this year.

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