Port Alberni’s COVID-19 Response Team has served more than 36,000 meals to people during the coronavirus pandemic since March 2020. One of their donations came from salmon farmers on Vancouver Island.
In April, the BC Salmon Farmers Association (BCSFA) announced the creation of a salmon donation initiative with Food Banks Canada and Food Banks BC to feed families in British Columbia during the pandemic.
Cermaq Canada, Grieg Seafood BC, Mowi Canada West, Creative Salmon and Golden Eagle Aquaculture are donating around 60,000 pounds of salmon to food banks that are seeing increased demand due to the ongoing COVID-19 crisis.
“This is a time for all industries to step up and support those most affected by COVID-19, and that’s exactly what BC’s salmon farmers are doing,” says John Paul Fraser, executive director of the BCSFA.
Every month in B.C. food banks help nearly 100,000 individuals, and they have all seen an increase in demand. Many food banks are shifting their distribution towards pre-packaged, shelf-stable foods that require less volunteer or client handling of products.
In Port Alberni, a number of organizations combined forces early on to ensure that the city’s most vulnerable are fed. The Salvation Army has provided the physical hub—they have a commercial kitchen in their building—and also brought in a mobile kitchen truck to bring food to people who could not come to the food bank. Volunteer drivers from various organizations have also stepped up to assist.
The Port Alberni Food Bank received 3,000 cans of salmon from Cermaq in April. The company donated 62,000 cans of food that were split mostly between five food bank hubs in Prince George, Kamloops, Kelowna, Chilliwack and Nanaimo.
Mowi Canada West, another salmon aquaculture company based in Campbell River, has also been providing salmon to Vancouver Island food banks. Ever since the coronavirus pandemic began, Mowi committed to supporting North Island food banks—partnering with Hardy Buoys out of Port Hardy to package and distribute 1,000 pounds of frozen Atlantic salmon fillets.
The Campbell River Food Bank then created a network of other food banks that have also benefited from Mowi’s donations.
Salvation Army Captain Michael Ramsay, who helps oversee Port Alberni’s food bank, said the donation of canned salmon was appreciated. The cans have been included in food hampers dropped off at people’s homes and used to make sandwiches for some of the 36,000 meals Port Alberni’s COVID-19 Response Team have served since March.