Major changes could soon be coming to the way the food bank in the Tri-Cities does business.
SHARE Family & Community Services Society has put out a request for proposals to develop a new model for the delivery of its service.
According to the RFP, the new model, which is tentatively called a "catalyst centre" would focus on providing a variety of services, from food support to housing assistance and skills training, under one roof.
SHARE CEO Martin Wyant explained the food bank has focused on a straightforward model of raising, storing and distributing food.
But now, he said, the society wants to look at working closely with other organizations in the Tri-Cities to pool resources.
Wyant suggested people in need now have to travel to a handful of different locations to get services, which adds another level of challenge.
"We want to focus less on the process and more about getting to understand why people are having to come to get food," he told the Tri-Cities NOW.
Wyant said part of the interest in changing the model came after the society was forced to look for storage space for part of the food bank.
In May, SHARE reached a deal with the province to lease a space at Riverview Hospital for one year.
For months SHARE had been on the hunt for a 2,000-to 3,000-square-foot permanent storage space for the operation, using paid storage lockers for a time and space provided by a local health products company.
SHARE's CEO said the society also wants to develop a more comprehensive intake and referral system that works with clients to get a better understanding of their basic needs and get them on a path out of poverty.
Besides looking for a more efficient way to provide services, Wyant said the model would also be asking more of those who rely on the charity.
"I believe people we're giving help to should also be asked to help," he said.
Though Wyant acknowledged the idea might be controversial, he said the food bank wouldn't refuse service to people who don't want to help in some way, or volunteer.
Instead, he said it would be more like an "invitation" for users to give back.
"There's dignity in being asked to give back," he said, adding most people want to be asked to lend a hand.
"Maybe it's now time to start looking at some different ideas about working with the people we're supporting."
Wyant said he's not even sure exactly what the new model will look like, but the purpose of the RFP is to find a group or person who can help develop the idea.
He said after going through the process, SHARE might find the current model to be the best, but he suspects there are certain aspects that can be changed.
Vancity has given the society a $20,000 grant to get the RFP process going.
The deadline for proposals is Aug. 30, with the model being developed within the next six months.
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