The People’s Pantry Food Recovery Society’s Healthy Hampers Program provides nutritious recovered food hampers on a weekly basis to seniors, single parents, and at-risk youth in the Tri-Cities, impacted by a variety of challenges including those arising from the COVID-19 pandemic, job loss, financial instability, and food insecurity issues. Since May, 2020, we have been operating as a food recovery society, working closely with community groups like the United Way Community builders, New view Society, SD43 (supporting CABE), and Westcoast Family Centers, building a base of regular hamper families and individuals. Since the onset of COVID in early 2020, we have seen an increased demand.

How The Program Works
Every Sunday morning, our volunteers meet with Immigration Link volunteers at specific food retailers in our area to collect food and bring it to our distribution centre in Port Coquitlam.
Volunteers sort the food, following all Food Safety and COVID safety requirements.
Volunteers assemble hampers that are tailored to the needs of hamper recipients, including their age, number, and dietary requirements.
Hampers are picked up 3 days a week according to pre-arranged appointments by our hamper families. To receive a hamper, you must register with us.

Did You Know?

  • We are currently providing between 60-70 hampers each week, supporting over 200 people.
  • We also support 4 agencies with hampers or bulk items.
  • The demand is such that we now have a waiting list.

As Canadians, we are truly fortunate to live in a country where we have an abundance of food; however, that abundance has led us to many wasteful food management practices that ultimately results in 4 million Canadians, including 1.4 million children, struggling to access healthy food.

In the Second Harvest report The Avoidable Crisis of Food Waste: the roadmap the call to action is clear: we need to re-think how we value food at each stage of the value chain. The issue lies on both sides of the equation: there is a strong business, social, and environmental case to reduce food loss and food waste. Consumers play a big role as well – we over shop and allow food to spoil or throw it out because it passes its best before date because we think it is inedible. All told, 11.2 million tonnes of good, nutritious food is currently being wasted in Canada today; this is enough to feed everyone in Canada for 5 months.
Furthermore, approximately 30% of all food produced in the world is lost or wasted; in British Columbia, organic waste represents 40% of material sent to our landfills. As it decomposes, it generates significant levels of greenhouse gases which increase global warming and contributes to climate change. This equates to a global carbon footprint of approximately 4.4 billion tonnes of CO2 annually. Source : 

Did you know?
Our average weekly recovered food donation from the 5 local stores we collect from on one day is 1200kg.
Interested in donating surplus food? Contact us.

At The People’s Pantry, we ensure safety, whether for our staff, volunteers, hamper families, or food, is always our top priority. When it comes to food safety, let’s talk about best before dates.

A best before date is not an expiry date and has little to do with food safety. All too often, consumers see a best before to mean “bad after” or worse. At the same time, food retailers and manufacturers are sometimes reluctant to donate food that is close to its best before date because of concerns around liability, reputation, or not knowing of organizations willing to accept this food.


In Canada, only 5 foods require expiry dates:
・Nutritional supplements
・Meal replacements
・Baby formula and other human milk substitutes
・Pharmacist-sold foods for very low-energy diets
・Formulated liquid diets


Food Handling
The People’s Pantry Society follows all BC Food Safe and food handling requirements.

COVID-19 Safety
During this time of COVID, The People’s Pantry follows all COVID safety protocols.
The following summarizes our Health and Safety Plan for the Healthy Hamper Project. At the center of everything is the importance we place on the safety and well-being of our volunteers and families. COVID-19 is spread in several ways and we recognize the risk of person-to-person transmission increases with proximity to others, the more time spent in proximity with others, and the number of people in any given space.

We follow all Provincial Health guidance, Workplace BC protocols, and Food Handling requirements to ensure a safe working environment for our volunteers and families and to reduce the spread of COVID-19 in our operation.

First level protection (Elimination)
Food Collection and Sorting Days
・We limit the number of people collecting rescued food to 2 (same household).
・We maintain a maximum of 8 volunteers, including the Volunteer Coordinator on our Food Sorting Day.
・On food collection and sorting day, we have 5 work stations set a minimum of 10 feet apart and assign volunteers to a unique work station.
・We mandate physical distancing at all times.
・We start each food collection and sorting day with a volunteer sign in (Contact tracing), a volunteer wellness checklist (volunteer signs), and a volunteer safety briefing. We clearly communicate our guidelines to volunteers through these actions.
・We ask if volunteers are not feeling well to stay home.
・We ask volunteers to wash their hands prior to starting sorting work.
・We have implemented cleaning protocols for all common areas and surfaces including washrooms, equipment, shared tables, vehicle interiors, door handles, etc.

Food Hamper Days
・We limit the number of people to 2 volunteers on food hamper day and to serving one family at a time inside our distribution facility. Each family must make an appointment in advance and this helps reduce the number of people waiting to be served on any given day.
・Doors and access to the building are controlled and locked, restricting access to only those with appointments.

・Our ED works from home
・Our Board meetings and all other Society meetings are held virtually

Administrative Controls
・We have established written rules and guidelines, including occupancy limits for our food collection and distribution facility.
・We have a designated delivery door located at the rear of the building with access restricted to registered volunteers.
・No access to the front door and no one from the public can enter without an appointment.
・Cleaning practices are carefully followed, including wiping down sorting tables, door handles, and all common surfaces.

・Masks are mandatory except where someone has an exemption. We ensure that all wearing masks know the proper use of masks.
・We provide PPE, hand sanitizer, and gloves.