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Capacity Building

In order for a food bank to collect and deliver food to people who need it, a significant investment in equipment is required. For example, trucks — ideally refrigerated ones — to collect food donations, forklifts to move and lift heavy crates within the warehouse, over-sized shelving to store donations, refrigeration equipment to safely keep perishable items, and industrial ranges to cook large quantities of food for meal programs.

With the right equipment, organizations can increase the amount of food and consumer products they can collect and distribute safely to people in need. They can also expand the range of foods they provide, by being able to handle fresh and frozen foods. Proper equipment helps food banks to work more efficiently while also reaching more recipients in their communities.

Food Banks Canada assists food banks by increasing their ability to help through our Capacity Building Program. The program helps the food bank network in a number of ways:

  • the Capacity Building Fund helps to finance construction projects and the acquisition of equipment essential to a food bank’s work
  • the Transportation Fund helps to finance the purchase of trucks and refrigeration vehicles
  • Bulk Purchases capture savings across the network by making large-scale purchases of essential items

The major component of the Capacity Building Program is the Capacity Building Fund. This grant program is designed to help Provincial Associations and Affiliate food banks make infrastructure improvements that expand their ability to help their communities.

These improvements are usually equipment purchases or construction projects that allow the organization to improve its operational effectiveness and efficiency. With help from this fund, food banks can:

  • increase the amount of food and consumer products they can provide to people in need
  • improve the quality and diversity of food they can distribute, for example by providing fresh and frozen foods
  • deliver food and consumer products more quickly, safely, and efficiently

If your food bank is looking for information about application dates and eligibility for the Capacity Building Fund, please visit the Resource Centre.


Operating a food bank requires so much more than simply a space to store and share food. Having a vehicle to pick up food donations and to distribute and deliver the items is equally essential.

The Transportation Fund has helped food banks become more efficient by securing vehicles appropriate for this work, in particular refrigerated vehicles to increase the amount of fresh and frozen food distributed to food bank recipients.

The fund has offered financial assistance to help food banks purchase a vehicle for transporting food, or retrofit their current vehicle to make it more suitable for this work — for example, by adding a refrigeration unit so it’s possible to collect and distribute milk and produce, or adding a pallet lift to pick up large donations from loading docks.

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As part of our Capacity Building Program, Food Banks Canada from time to time makes bulk purchases of some of the essential food items most commonly needed by food banks.

By buying in large quantities, we get reduced prices and make our funding dollars go as far as possible, while providing food banks with items they need.

In 2015, Food Banks Canada also began a bulk purchase of refrigerators and freezers to help food banks and Provincial Associations in our network offer more fresh and frozen foods to their communities.

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of food distributed by Canadian food banks is fresh (eg. milk, eggs, fresh or frozen fruits and vegetables, bread)