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Food Bank CEO Cheryl Carline fills empty tummies and hungry hearts VIDEO

Great Vancouver Food Bank Society Executive Director and CEO, Cheryl Carline


This time of year is synonymous with hospitality and giving.  We scour the malls, online and off, looking for that perfect gift for our loved ones.  We fill our cupboards, our fridges and our bellies with good food, splurge on that coveted bottle of wine and get together with people who, throughout the year, we just can’t seem to find time for a phone call never mind dinner.

It is also a time of year for giving to charity. For most nonprofit organizations, it is the most coveted time of the year, where people dig deep into their wallets and into their closets to provide what typically ends up being the majority of an organization’s annual funding. Greater Vancouver Food Bank Society gets 85% of their ‘feeding’ funds in the month of December alone.

The passion house behind The Greater Vancouver Food Bank Society is it’s Executive Director and CEO, Cheryl Carline.  For anyone who has met her, well, how can you forget her bubbly smile, her infectious laugh and her raw passion for feeding community?  For Carline, food represents so much more than a full tummy.  Food represents family, nurturing, sharing and that bridge to building connections and relationships. Carline has been leading GVFBS for ten years and food literally is the heart of her organization. In this interview, originally published on the Life on Purpose Network, Carline discusses how relationships in her life have motivated her to give back on a full time basis.

Now, I don’t want to get all preachy and ask everyone to give up their turkey dinner for someone else, or not buy gifts and instead put the money towards an organization in your community you value. 

Ok, maybe I do. 

However, I do believe this time of year gives us an opportunity to think beyond ourselves, beyond our own needs and see who around us would benefit from just a little ‘giving’. 

The Greater Vancouver Food Bank Society was established in 1982 as an emergency food source due to the recession in 1981. It was supposed to be temporary.

The Food Bank went from serving 200 people in 1982 to 9,000 people each week in 15 depots located in Burnaby, New Westminster, Vancouver and the North Shore. Additionally, the GVFBS aids over 100 food-serving agencies within these areas, providing help to approximately another 16,000 individuals weekly.  In 2010, Food Bank needs have increased 10% in our city.

One unknown fact of The Greater Vancouver Food Bank Society is that over half of those who receive its services give back; either through donating themselves or volunteering in one of the 15 depots or the 33,000 square foot warehouse that moves over 8 million pounds of food.

Giving is good; we know that. We feel it every time we help another and we see it in the faces of those who receive it. A good friend of mine and founder of Each One Reach One taught me long ago to walk up to random people, look into their eyes, and say, ‘ I see the good in you’.  It is incredibly empowering and humbling all at the same time.  And it doesn’t cost a thing.

To quote Dr. Seuss and that infamous Grinch,

“It came with out ribbons! It came without tags!”
“It came without packages, boxes or bags!”
And he puzzled three hours, till his puzzler was sore.

Then the Grinch thought of something he hadn’t before!
“Maybe Christmas,” he thought, “doesn’t come from a store.”
“Maybe Christmas…perhaps…means a little bit more!”

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