Greater Vancouver Food Bank Crisis

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The resources below are in the order that they occur to me, not of importance... only you and your team can decide what really counts as important for your audience!

A. Explore many food bank websites

How do they describe their work? How do they appeal for donations, partners, and volunteers? Are there common/best practices that you can learn from? Start by checking the sites below, but consider searching food banks in other cities or countries to learn about their activities and advocacy as well.

  • Be sure to explore their Ways to Give, Volunteer, and Events pages to learn about how they currently engage the community and build support.
  • Feed Ontario: Ontario's "largest collective of hunger-relief organizations."
  • Similar to Food Banks BC. Check out how Food Banks Canada canvases for donations and partners and use its tool to find individual food banks across the country (each of which may have practices you can learn from).
  • In addition, as a national advocacy organisation, FBC operates as both a voice and a support site for other food banks. How do they frame the policy issues? What advice and tools do they offer to help other food banks improve (and fund!) their operations?

B. Academic research

1. Sociological Abstracts

  • Research from across the social sciences on topics such as food banks.
  • A few examples of the articles I found in this database:
  • You may have noticed that the three articles above were all published in the same journal and the same issue. Maybe it's worth exploring that journal and especially that issue more closely?

2. PsycInfo covers articles in psychology journals... which can touch on topics such as donor motivation.

3. Business Source Complete (BSC) covers research dealing with nonprofit management, charity marketing, etc. Here are a few examples of BSC articles I found in my initial searches:

  • Don't ignore older research articles! Even if you feel they are possibly outdated, check Google Scholar to see if any newer articles have cited them. For instance...

C. Reports from think tanks, research institutes, NGOs, etc.

  • Policy Commons: Reports from think tanks and research institutes around the world. Great place to find information on public policy issues, and food scarcity is absolutely the sort of topic they cover. Start with this broad search, then use the options on the left or add search terms to refine your results.

D. News

Canadian Newsstream covers all major Canadian newspapers (e.g., Vancouver Sun), as well as many small-market papers such as the Burnaby Now. Start with this rough exploratory search.

Of course, not all news is published in newspapers. Check the sites of major Canadian broadcasters for stories on this topic as well. For instance, here's a CTV story published on Oct. 5th:

Still with broadcasters... as you may already know, CBC BC hosts an annual Food Bank Day each December to raise money for BC food banks. Last year's event raised almost $3 million.

  • Such a major, repeating event might be good to keep in mind as you plan your own strategies so that you can build on what exists and avoid redundancies.
  • And I suspect that many local news publications (CBC included) publish/broadcast articles on food banks around the same time as Food Bank Day. Maybe it's useful to focus on the Nov-Dec period if you're searching for any mentions of research, best practices, trends, statistics, etc.

Update (30 Oct.): I see news articles almost daily about the food bank crisis. This is clearly a very current/hot topic. I hope you are reading the news regularly to see if any reports, research, or solutions are discussed.

For instance, just a few days ago CBC published this story: "Food bank visits in B.C. increasing more than national average — and organizers fear they'll keep rising."

  • I'm pretty sure that the Food Banks Canada report they refer to is this one.
  • There's also a link to an earlier (2019) CBC story about how a food bank in the Okanagan was able to increase their partnerships with local businesses and provide more food by installing large freezers in their basement.

E. Books & eBooks

Sometimes a good book on a topic can provide a view of different angles on an issue as well as lists of relevant resources. Use the SFU Library catalogue to find such titles as...

F. Miscellaneous

1. For the opinions of Canadians on work-life balance and general work environment issues, try major public opinion polling companies such as...

  • Note: most of these organisations provide the detailed data tables for their surveys. Be sure to look for links to such deeper content, especially near the bottom of each summary of survey results.

2. The BC Centre for Disease Control (the provincial authority on donating food), in partnership with the Greater Vancouver Food Bank, Food Banks BC and Metro Vancouver, published the Industry Food Donation Guidelines to encourage donations of safe, healthy food to local food banks and charities. The Guidelines help business owners, managers or other decision makers answer these questions:

  • Why donate food?
  • How to start and manage a food donation program? – step by step guide
  • What foods are suitable for donation?
  • What about risk and liability?

3. BC has a Food Donor Encouragement Act which limits the liability of food donors. Including the name of that Act in some of your Internet searches may get some interesting results. For instance, one such search led me to this Metro Vancouver presentation, which reminded me to check that regional agency's site for more that touches on food banks.

4. Best practices for food bank fundraising: Many sites and publications that support fundraising professionals, volunteer coordinators, and/or food banks suggest ways to increase donations and attract volunteers. A quick Internet search for best practices should dig up lots of ideas for your group to consider.

For example...

5. Our Vividata database provides demographics of Canadians who have donated in the last year, as well as Canadians who state that they are "willing to volunteer their time for a good cause."

6. Food banks are often the topic of theses and dissertations... and such publications tend to have comprehensive (even exhaustive!) reference lists... which means that they can be a great path to even more information.

  • Closer to home, search SFU's Summit database for theses, dissertations, and capstone projects that touch on food banks or food waste.

8. If you need recent advice on fundraising, consider this search for books/ebooks from the last 5 years as well as these journals that focus on nonprofit marketing and video tutorials such as "Nonprofit Fundraising Tips" via our LinkedIn Learning database.

9. The follow news story about a Surrey farm giving away vegetables the grocery stores say are too "ugly" to sell got me thinking about the topic of food waste and its relationship to the food bank topic. One way to reduce waste throughout the food chain is to divert items toward the food banks.

For instance, see this broad search for articles & ebooks/books on food waste, all from the last 5 years. Also try adding "food waste" to your searches in some of other sources mentioned on this guide such as Policy Commons.

<No further suggestions yet - but keep checking. Also, don't forget that this is your wiki: you are welcome to add your own research tips for your 360W colleagues. --- MB>