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BC Lions help tackle hunger at a very busy time for Surrey Food Bank

‘People can’t afford to buy food right now,’ manager of Newton warehouse says
BC Lions player Andrew Peirson drops off donations at Surrey Food Bank on Friday, Aug. 11, 2023. (Photo: Tom Zillich)

With the cost of buying groceries at an all-time high, Surrey Food Bank is seeing a dip in donations and a sharp rise in the number of people needing food.

“People can’t afford to buy food right now,” said Vijay Naidu, a manager of Surrey Food Bank.

“The cost has gone up so much and people are telling us that most of their money goes to bills and rent and mortgages, and they end up with not enough for food.”

Donations at the food bank have dropped 30 per cent this year, and the number of clients have gone up by 23 per cent, according to Naidu.

“And we are serving over 17,000 clients per month, and places like the Guildford depot, where we are every Wednesday at Cedar Grove (church), we have more and more people coming.”

On Friday (Aug. 11), on behalf of BC Lions, offensive lineman Andrew Peirson dropped off a few bags of donations at the food bank’s Newton warehouse, on 78 Avenue. The food was collected from season-ticketholders during a recent road-game viewing party held at the Lions’ training facililty in Whalley.

Last year Peirson was featured in a Now-Leader series of stories about the high cost of living.

“A lot of families are in need these days,” Peirson said Friday. “We’re here to raise awareness about how much families are in need and specifically, something that’s near to me, is how many children use the food bank.”

Close to 47 per cent of Surrey Food Bank’s clients are under the age of 18, according to the organization’s stats.

Saturday (Aug. 12) at BC Place Stadium, the Lions and Purolator courier company will team up to “Tackle Hunger” again in an annual food drive, during a home game against Calgary Stampeders.

Football fans who bring food and cash donations can get their photo taken with the Grey Cup, the CFL championship trophy. Kickoff is 4 p.m. for the “Best In the West” game, to include Wall of Fame inductions of Wally Buono and “Waterboys” founders Dennis Skulsky, Moray Keith, Tom Malone and Jamie Pitblado. Details are posted on

A recent report Food Banks Canada says food bank usage is up 35 per cent from 2019, and one in seven clients is employed but has trouble keeping up with rising grocery costs and inflation.

Meantime, every few months volunteers with Surrey’s Sutton-Premier Realty deliver cash donations and non-perishable food to Surrey Food Bank, then work four-hour shifts organizing the warehouse and preparing packages for distribution.

Company associate Graham Newberry said he wants to pay-forward the kindness he received years ago.

“I like volunteering at the food bank because, unfortunately, we all go through a few tough stretches in our life journey, and about 20 years ago after a divorce and some good and bad decisions I made, I had an immediate need to utilize the services of the food bank,” Newberry said in a news release.

“They provided me with groceries for about six months and this helped me get my act together and get out of that rut.”

Newberry encourages people to chip in at the food bank because it’s “fun, and there’s a great sense of camaraderie. It brings me and all of us so much joy.”

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Tom Zillich

About the Author: Tom Zillich

I cover entertainment, sports and news stories for the Surrey Now-Leader, where I've worked for more than half of my 30-plus years in the newspaper business.
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