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Metro Vancouver mayors get feisty for food bank challenge

Greater Vancouver Food Bank demand at record levels

Five Lower Mainland mayors are hoping a little friendly competition will fill up our local food banks, which have seen demand skyrocket since the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic.

City of North Vancouver Mayor Linda Buchanan, District of North Vancouver Mayor Mike Little, Burnaby Mayor Mike Hurley, Vancouver Mayor Kennedy Stewart and New Westminster Mayor Jonathan Cote kicked off a month-long campaign Tuesday morning.

More than establishing sweet, sweet bragging rights for whose constituents who are the most generous, the goal is to raise $500,000 for the Greater Vancouver Food Bank. With 125 tonnes more donations distributed by food banks in March 2021 than in March 2020, the need continues to grow 13 months into the pandemic.

“We've just seen a massive increase,” said CEO David Long. “We're going to see that continue.”

If each mayor pulls their weight in proportion to their population, they need only raise 50 cents per capita.

Buchanan said she would be inspired by one of her constituents who was forced to leave work so she could care for her children during the pandemic and now relies on the food bank.

“Loss of family income is something that many people have experienced over the past year, and we know this puts a lot of pressure on people,” she said, noting the number of lining up at the food bank in North Vancouver has more than tripled in the last year. “The majority of these people being children and seniors.”

Buchanan said she will be out ringing a bell for donations. Hurley said he’d be “beating the drum, literally,” and said he had a few other tricks up his sleeve, but he reminded everyone to keep their eyes on the prize.

“Although this is a friendly rivalry, I’m sure we will all meet our goals and do what's needed to help as many people as possible within the food bank circle,” he said.

Little, however, signalled a less gimmicky strategy.

“At the end of the day, bells, guitars, gold lamé pants and Vancouver trash talk are not going to win this. It’s going to be about getting out in the community and telling them about the need,” he said, calling on his affluent constituents to show up with a pile of donations that matches the North Shore Mountains in stature.

Long thanked the mayors for leveraging their naturally competitive spirit to fill tummies in need, and suggested Buchanan would be the safest bet for which mayor would pull in the most per capita.

With their buying power, food banks are able to stretch cash donations twice as far.

The competition officially starts on May 1 and runs for a month. Donations can be made via the Greater Vancouver Food Bank’s website or wherever you spot a mayor with a bell, drum or gold lamé pants.

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