Alair™ Donates Community Pantry to Help Fight Food Insecurity

Vancouver, BC – Custom home builder and renovator, Alair™ has constructed a new community pantry, donating it to the Kitsilano Neighbourhood House at 2305 West 7th Avenue in Vancouver. Community pantries follow the “Take what you need, leave what you can,” approach; encouraging neighbours and passersby traffic to donate food and other personal items to those who may need it. 

“It’s clear that food insecurity is becoming an increasingly dire issue in our communities,” says Alair Regional Partner, David Babakaiff. “With the current economic situation, inflation and the rising cost of food, it’s a tough time for many individuals and families. We love being able to use our skills as builders to help people in this way, especially at this time of year.” 

Pantries like this one are a mutual aid initiative run entirely by volunteers. They’re designed to provide healthy, free food and essential supplies to communities across the Lower Mainland.

This is Alair’s third such gift in a year, having built a pantry for Or Shalom Synagogue in East Vancouver in the spring, and a Community Gift Box for the Mount Pleasant Neighbourhood House last holiday season. The current pantry highlights the need for food support in all areas of the city.

“Kitsilano Neighbourhood House has an established cultural presence as a community hub and source of support within Kitsilano and the westside of Vancouver,” says Kitsilano Neighbourhood House’s Strategic Development Coordinator, Alicia Smith. “[With the pantry] we aim to reach as many demographics as possible with food supports, and to bring awareness to the layers of food insecurity that exist within our own neighbourhood.” 

The demand for mutual aid pantries continues to grow as local Food Banks struggle to keep up with demand.  Community Pantries are an easy way for individuals and organizations to donate food. They also provide a simple and private way for those in need to access food when they require it because pantries are open 24 hours a day to anyone, no questions asked. 

“I have definitely seen the need for food assistance intensify in the last few months,” says Pantry Volunteer, Mona Grenier. “Food used to last a day or more in the pantries, now it’s always gone within a few hours. I am seeing more and more people waiting at the pantries for food donations to be dropped off. The air can sometimes be tense because there are so many people in need, and sometimes not enough food to go around.” 

Smith says food security needs in her neighbourhood often remain ‘hidden’, which leads to social stigma related to accessing the limited supports that exist.

“The Westside is often seen as more affluent and asset rich, so most of Vancouver’s resources for food-aid are located far away from our community, making food-aid especially inaccessible not only for those who need it, but also for those who wish to support it.”

The new Kits House pantry will augment an existing, smaller pantry already on the property that will now be used to store non-food necessities. Painted by local artist Tricia Aviss, the new structure aims to be as warm and welcoming as possible.

As for what to donate this holiday season, Grenier says protein products are always in demand. That includes canned meats, dairy products, tofu, and peanut butter. Ready-to-eat frozen dinners, canned soups, stews, beans, and grocery basics like eggs, milk, oil and cheese all go very quickly. 

“And don’t forget treats like cookies or candy, they can really brighten someone’s day,” she adds. 

The pantry officially opens on Saturday, December 17. Neighbours, pantry users and media are invited to attend the launch event from 1 pm to 3 pm.