Frank Arce sorts through some produce on Friday morning. Frank has been volunteering at the Comox Valley Food Bank for 10 years.

Food bank video aims to destigmatize

There is a stigma associated with food bank users that Catherine Quinn wants to erase.

She’s not just talking about it; she’s produced a YouTube movie to help change people’s attitudes.

Feeding Each Other takes a brief look at the clients as well as the volunteers of the Comox Valley Food Bank.

Food banks throughout Canada are seeing an increase in users, and the clientele will surprise some people.

Single parents, pensioners, even those who work full-time but still do not earn enough to keep their pantries stocked are coming to food banks like the Comox Valley Food Bank for help.

“I worked with the (Comox Valley) Food Bank to come up with the concept – the first thing we had to determine was what kind of message they wanted to put out there,” said Quinn. “The initial conversation I had with (CVFB president) Jeff Hampton and (manager) Susan Somerset, and they talked about how important it was to de-stigmatize the place.”

Quinn said that, like many Comox Valley residents, she was unaware of the vast need for the food bank in the community.

“It wasn’t really on my radar,” she said. “I knew it was there, but I was totally unaware of what happened beyond those doors.

“A lot of people think that it’s just ne’er-do-wells who abuse the food bank but in fact … 31 per cent of people in the Valley are the ‘working poor’. It really is an issue. Also, 35 per cent of the food bank’s clients are children. It’s an issue that just won’t go away.”

Quinn said the fact that some people were willing to go “on camera” to talk about their reasons for using the food bank is a good step towards the destigmatization of its clientele. The more open people become to the issue, the more accepting the general public will be of the service.

“The one lady, the pensioner, she opened up to me and told me her story about how her pension just doesn’t allow her to pay for all of her expenses every month,” said Quinn. “That’s important to know that. There are all kinds of stories.

“Yes, there were many people who didn’t want to talk to me about it, and I don’t blame them. It’s because of that stigma. But it’s unfair.”

The video also takes viewers inside the Comox Valley Food Bank, to meet some of its many volunteers.

“You can see how hard working those volunteers are, and how tight they are as a group – you can feel the love,” said Quinn. “It’s people taking care of other people.”

Quinn said the experience of developing the movie was a true eye-opener for her, and she’s hoping everyone will take the time to watch the three-minute clip.

“It’s about us. It’s about our friends, our neighbours. People need the food bank and we need to just get past our judgement about it,” said Quinn.

The movie can be seen at and there will be a celebration of the production’s release at the Comox Valley Art Gallery March 6.



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