As the price of fruits and vegetables rise, low and fixed income earners say they struggle to buy healthy ingredients.
But a program in Nanaimo, that soon will also be starting up in Campbell River, is filling that gap with food that until recently would have been thrown in a dumpster.
Sorting through bashed up berries and wilting lettuce, volunteer Joyce Lautermilch is picking and choosing what will make it to someone’s plate this weekend. The onetime food bank client, now helping return the favour by salvaging food that but for this unique program would be thrown out. Saving tonnes of food from dumpsters in the process.
“And yes it does break our hearts to throw some of this stuff out because we know darn well that we would use it, cut out the bad parts,” says Lautermilch.
All of the food in the Food 4U Recovery Program comes from Nanaimo grocery stores.
“And we give them an opportunity to donate food rather than throwing it out,” says Peter Sinclair of the Loaves & Fishes Food Bank. “And as you can see here we have an abundance of food. Everything from strawberries and dairy items to bread and deli items and meat.”
To cereal and mayonnaise that has reached it’s best before date.
“The best before date on this is May 5th, now on a canned item like this we can go up to one year beyond that,” says Sinclair. “Best before dates are not an indication of food safety. People will continually refer to them as expiry dates, they are not. I believe they are put there to get you to throw out and buy something else,” says Sinclair.
This Food Recovery Program started in Nanaimo in September 2012. Modelled after a successful program in Kamloops, and Campbell River is about to start a program in that city.
“Frankly I’d like to see it happening in every community across BC,” says Sinclair
Serving 8,000 people this food bank needs all it can get and the food recovery program has increased the value of food Nanaimo is giving out five fold.
“Without this food, I wouldn’t be able to get groceries without this food,” says client Tasha Roberts.
“People when they leave will just be thank-you thank-you and they’ll just be carrying bags and bags of food,” says Sinclair.
Giving new meaning to the old adage, that one man’s trash is another’s treasure.