VANCOUVER -- Food banks in Metro Vancouver are in dire need of donations as the novel coronavirus, or COVID-19, continues to spread worldwide.

On Tuesday, the Greater Vancouver Food Bank issued an urgent call for donations to continue providing services to those facing food insecurity in the region. 

"While people across the Lower Mainland have spent the past days filling their pantries, it is important to keep in mind our neighbours who face food insecurity," said Cynthia Boulter, chief operating officer of the GVFB in a news release.

"Food insecure people cannot afford to stockpile food, and we are here to ensure they have access to a continuous supply of it. 

"We are unsure if our food industry donors will be able to continue providing us with critical donations we rely on, and we have to mitigate that risk."

Both provincial and federal officials have warned against stockpiling supplies, saying it can hurt vulnerable community members. 

"There isn't any need to overstock your own supplies – doing so will put at risk seniors, single parents and others who need those necessities," said Carole James, B.C.'s finance minister, at a news conference Tuesday. 

"Shop well, plan ahead, but please don’t go overboard at other people's expenses."

As the GVFB continues to provide services, financial donations, shopping bags and volunteers are all needed. 

"Our top priority is to protect the health and safety of our clients, volunteers, and staff, while ensuring that we continue to provide food to all those who need it across the Greater Vancouver area," said David Long, CEO of the GVFB in a news release, adding the organization isn't seeing any financial support from governments yet. 

"As such, we rely solely on donations from the public, businesses and granting foundations so that we can support our clients in need in Vancouver, Burnaby, New Westminster, and on the North Shore."


The GVFB is advising donors to prioritize financial donations over food donations.

"We can make donated dollars go much farther than donated food, because of our buying power," the GVFB says on its website. Monetary donations can be made online

Over the weekend, the food bank said it's bracing for changes to how and where clients pick up their food. The organization is anticipating that some churches and neighbourhood houses may be closing over the next couple of weeks.

"That's not going to stop us," Boulter told CTV News. "If we have to distribute the food out of the back of our truck, we will."

The GVFB says one quarter of its clients are children and youth, while about 22 per cent are seniors.