The Surrey Food Bank has a new leader.
The organization’s board of directors have chosen Feezah Jaffer to replace former executive director Marilyn Herrmann, who retired earlier this year.
Jaffer, who worked closely with longtime leader Herrmann, has over eight years of non-profit experience with a background that has focused on food security and community leadership.
She thanked the food bank’s board of directors for the opportunity to lead the charity’s “new era of growth and service to our community.”
Jaffer said she has many plans for the food bank’s future. One, is to “ride the digital wave” in her new position.
“I would like to engage our community more on social media, engage more youth and work to educate the community about the growing hardships and challenges their neighbours face,” Jaffer told the Now-Leader. “I would also like to share the success stories of food bank clients. We have many clients who have been able to overcome challenges and bring their families out of food insecurity and poverty, and now have come back to the food bank as volunteers and donors. They know what it is like to struggle and they now have the ability to help. It is humbling to see and share that.”
Jaffer said she also hopes to help the food bank continue to grow “beyond hunger” by not only providing food, “but connecting them with opportunities and education so that they can provide better for their families and themselves.”
And it appears Jaffer may be at the helm when the food bank finally gets a new home, which it has been actively seeking for about six years.
The Anglican Parish of the Church of Epiphany, at 10553 148 St., wants to partner with the organization in a redevelopment project that would see the food bank build a new home to suit its needs.
“They have close to two acres and they wanted to partner with an organization that kind of has the same philosophy, the same community connection. They thought the food bank would be perfect because they want to bring the community together.”
Jaffer envisions it as a facility “where we can bring our clients in out of the elements, provide space for them to engage with our partners and each other and where they feel safe, respected and dignified.”
Jaffer said she hopes that will materialize in 18 to 24 months.
“The stories of our clients, the challenges they face and the resilience and strength they have is what motivates and drives me to grow our community beyond hunger,” said Jaffer “I would like to say that the Surrey Food Bank is a place of hope, of compassion and we serve people like you and I. I encourage our community to come down for a tour, learn about what we do and who we serve, and how they can help. I would like to assure them that I am passionate and committed to achieving our mandate of providing our low-income neighbours with a hand up, not a hand out. I look forward to their partnership and support in this endeavour.”
Susan Byrom, president of the Surrey Food Bank Society Board, said she’s excited to welcome Jaffer.
“Feezah’s expertise in food security and the food banking industry has grown substantially through many years of hands-on leadership serving the not-for-profit sector, most recently as associate executive director at the Surrey Food Bank. A passionate collaborator, Feezah will be responsible for leading the food bank into its next stage of growth and a new building. We’re excited to see the vision of a new food bank come to life, better equipped to meet our client’s needs.”