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For many, food represents more than a necessity. It is the impetus for drawing friends around the table for social connection. It is a creative outlet – gathering ingredients to test out a new recipe, refine an old one, or whip up a family favourite. And it is the centrepiece of celebration and tradition.

For others, food can be a source of stress. It represents difficult decisions for families and individuals on tight budgets, and is a daily reminder of how tough it is to make ends meet.

We know that food banks play a critical role in reducing food insecurity in our communities. We also know that many people are hesitant to get the support they need because of the perceived stigma associated with the service.

Sea to Sky Community Services (SSCS) is working to change that. When the doors open at their new Pemberton Food Bank location – just a few doors down from their existing space – clients will have a new experience: more choice to shop for the foods they want, shorter queues, and greater selection of locally grown, healthy options.

Slated to open towards the end of 2022, the new Pemberton food hub will be approximately 75% larger than the current facility, allowing SSCS to better meet the growing demand for support and providing more space to create a dignified shopping experience.

Like a traditional grocery store, shoppers with carts in hand will walk the aisles and self-select the items they want; much of which have been supplied by community partners — local farmers, grocers and purchases made using Pemberton Food Bank donations from community members.

A number of other food banks have adopted this model over the years and it has been well received by clients, says Loralee Seitz, Pemberton Food Bank Project Coordinator.

“It gives people the power of choice,” Loralee says, and adds that it also means less work for staff and volunteers who currently spend a bulk of their time pre-packaging food parcels for client pick up.

Funding from Food Banks Canada has enabled SSCS to purchase refrigeration equipment that increases access to recovered food, by providing a place to display the food, and by increasing the Pemberton Food Bank’s capacity to accept, and store, recovered food.  

The new, flexible space will also improve access. The increased demand for food bank services in Pemberton coupled with pandemic-related capacity limits has resulted in lengthy queues, sometimes in excess of 50 clients. A larger facility means more people can access the space at the same time, and it provides future options for a kitchen to prepare items for distribution or to engage the community.

The Pemberton Food Bank team hopes to use the kitchen to host community workshops on topics such as making the most of seasonal foods and repurposing excess or soon-to-expire foods through canning, cooking and baking.

SSCS is appreciative of the donations that have made the move to the larger space possible, and are seeking to raise the remaining money required to equip the community kitchen.

Together, we’re building community. Donate to support the Pemberton Food Bank move and help us reach our financial goal.