VICTORIA -- BC Ferries has suspended all food services aboard vessels, except for on some northern routes, effective immediately.

The ferry operator says the suspension of food services comes amidst B.C.’s call for social distancing, and because the number of passengers purchasing food aboard ferries has declined considerably over the past several weeks, “leading to tremendous food waste.”

Passengers on ferries can still access snacks from vending machines, says BC Ferries.

Following the company's sudden decision to scale back food services, BC Ferries donated all of its remaining perishable food items to a Vancouver Island food bank.

On Thursday, the Victoria Rainbow Kitchen Society picked up more than 2,400 pounds of food from BC Ferries’ Swartz Bay terminal.

The food donations included items like mashed potatoes, coleslaw and fresh vegetables.

The Rainbow Kitchen operates out of Esquimalt and offers daily breakfasts and lunches for people in need.

The food donations come at a time when other local charities say that food shortages are being felt in the island community due to the COVID-19 pandemic. 

There is not set return date for when food services will be available again on BC Ferries.