The BC Salmon Farmers Association is stepping up again for local food banks.

This time, the association is participating in a new national salmon donation initiative with Food Banks Canada.

It’s aimed at helping feed Canadian families during the COVID-19 pandemic.

Back in April, salmon farmers partnered with Food Banks BC to produce and distribute 86,000 cans of salmon across the province.

The donation was so well received that Food Banks Canada approached the BC Salmon Farmers Association to partner for a national donation of salmon to make further cans.

Now, Cermaq Canada and Grieg Seafood BC have teamed up to donate 60,000 pounds, or 120,000 cans, of salmon to Food Banks Canada’s national hamper distribution initiative to assist with the current demands on food banks.

When asked about this latest donation, Grieg Seafood BC managing director Rocky Boschman says “we didn’t think twice about doing this.”

“The virus that we’re all dealing with has obviously upset a lot of our normal life in Canada. There’s a lot of people in need. A lot of people’s lives have been profoundly disrupted in a very short period of time. Unemployment has skyrocketed. The world has never seen this type of disruption in this way before.”

Before the pandemic, Canadians visited food banks nearly 1.1 million times a month across the country.

As an increased demand is expected to last beyond the pandemic as the economy slowly bounces back, Boschman says the need is “very profound.”

“In the salmon farming industry on Vancouver Island, we’re extremely fortunate. We were deemed to be essential services by all levels of government very early on. We received the green light and the support to keep doing business. As we produce a food product, which is very valuable, the obvious way for us to give back and to be good citizens is by participating in this type of program.”

Boschman says protein is very important to food banks, but can be transported and stored and doesn’t expire.

“Of course, our donation is in the form of canned salmon. It will have a shelf life of three to five years,” Boschman adds.

The pandemic has seen food banks and other businesses shift towards pre-packaged, shelf-stable foods that require less volunteer or client handling of products.

Together, with BC salmon farmers’ previous donations to Food Banks BC, this brings total salmon donations equivalent to over half a million meals to Canadians.