The Greater Vancouver Food Bank hopes to collect 100,000 pounds of canned goods in one weekend to replenish its shelves after a slow summer for donations.
"We have never, ever seen it so empty, in fact to the point that for the first time in our history, we're going to be spending over this next month up to $150,000 to buy canned food to give out," said Ariela Friedmann, communications director for the GVFB.
This week, the food bank along with partners including Save-On-Foods, handed out 38,000 brown bags to households in its catchment area of Vancouver, Burnaby, New Westminster and North Vancouver for its first-ever city-wide food drive.
The hope is that residents will fill the bags with cans of tuna, preserved fruit and canned beans and then put them back out on their doorsteps on Saturday for collection.
Those items are the most needed by the food bank, which is also asking the public to either make a donation online or drop the non-perishable items at Save-On-Foods or PriceSmart grocery stores.
Friedmann says the GVFB is unsure why supplies have dropped so low. Demand has remained steady as the organization helps 26,500 on average each week.
A 2015 study showed the use of food banks at its highest rate ever in the province.
On Monday, Hunger Awareness Week begins across Canada, which is aimed at solving the issues often behind the problem of hunger.