A group of like-minded organizations today announced the opening of a new facility that promises to dramatically increase both the quantity – and the quality – of food available to the estimated 50,000 food-insecure people in our region, diverting up to 2,000 kilograms of food per day from landfill.
The Food Rescue Distribution Centre is a collaboration between Rotary Clubs of Greater Victoria, Thrifty Foods, The Victoria Foundation, the 40+ members of the Food Share Network and their operational partner, The Mustard Seed Street Church. Through the centre, quality, perishable food donated by Thrifty Foods will be collected and re-distributed by The Mustard Seed Street Church to Food Share Network partners & food insecure people living in the Capital Region.
Fourteen per cent of all people living in the region are food insecure, meaning some 50,000 people do not have the means to access healthy food. Food banks, emergency hampers and meals programs currently serve 20,000 people annually, but there are an additional 30,000 “hidden hungry” who do not access these programs and struggle to feed themselves and their families.
“The Victoria Foundation has been working with local food organizations to identify gaps in the current system and to find solutions,” said Victoria Foundation CEO Sandra Richardson. “Ultimately, we believe in a future where we focus less on the symptoms of food insecurity and more on addressing the root causes so that everyone in our community has sustainable access to affordable, nutritious food. This project will address major gaps related to transportation, storage and distribution, and take an important step to reduce food waste and get more healthy foods safely to people in need. ”
“Proudly Serving our Communities is one of our core values and why Thrifty Foods is so committed to giving back to the communities where we work and live,” said Lorne MacLean, General Manager, Thrifty Foods. “Food waste and food access are major concerns, especially in the Capital Region, and we knew from the earliest conversations with our partners that we wanted to be part of the solution. We are proud to be part of the Food Rescue Project and helping provide quality, perishable food to those who need it most.”
Bruce Curtiss, Executive Director of The Mustard Seed Street Church was excited about the likelihood of improved health outcomes and quality of life for thousands of people living in poverty, but added that more help is needed to ensure ongoing success. “Generous support from the Victoria Foundation and the Rotary Clubs of Greater Victoria have helped to launch this project, but to remain viable, this facility needs additional ongoing financial support as well as volunteers to help clean & sort the food.”
In 2015, Rotarians for Food Rescue successfully raised the necessary funds for transportation and storage infrastructure – one of the most challenging aspects of any solution involving perishable food. “Our aim was to provide funding for a major food recovery system that will see perishable food items move from grocery stores and other sources to the vulnerable populations in the Capital Region through the Food Share Network,” said Rotary Assistant Governor Lorna Curtis. “The success of this project will provide lessons for other communities that want to do similar work.”
The food rescue project is the result of regional collaboration among non-profit agencies and stakeholders that came together under the Food Share Network umbrella. “I’m thankful for the amount of time and effort that Food Share Network members have invested in the creation of this transformative program,” said Brenda Bolton, Coordinator of the Food Share Network. “And I’m excited about this opportunity to work closely with schools, First Nations and senior citizens to increase their access to food.”