Victoria city councillor Chris Coleman takes a pie in the face from Rocky Raccoon of the Victoria Shamrocks as part of Mustard Seed’s annual Pie Off Challenge. Kristyn Anthony/VICTORIA NEWS

Mustard Seed challenges you to Pie-Off in Esquimalt

Local street church raising funds to re-stock the shelves of their food distribution centre

What better way to kick off the giving season by throwing a pie in someone’s face?

The Mustard Seed Street Church, a non-profit fighting hunger and poverty in Greater Victoria, launched their annual Pie-Off Challenge today. Executive director Bruce Curtiss bravely stood as director of development Janine Boice hit him with all the sweetness she could muster in the name of helping others.

“Going into Thanksgiving season, we’re hoping to entice people to be mindful to give,” said Boice.

After Curtiss wiped clean, Victoria city councilllor Chris Coleman, fire chief Paul Bruce and other community leaders bore the brunt of the fruit-filled fun and tossed the challenge forward. Throw a pie in the face of those you love, share it on social media with the hashtag #YYJPieOff and help bring awareness to the issue of food insecurity in the region.

“The pie-off is all about getting people to think about giving, because we need funds and food,” Boice said. “Christmas and winter is just around the corner and families need support and help.”

Mustard Seed’s food distribution centre in Esquimalt has drastically increased the resources the organization is now able to provide. Boice estimates the church’s Queen Street location saw roughly 5,000 people per month, for free hot lunches, or to pick up donated food hampers, and now that number is closer to 15,000.

Community partners like Thrifty Foods, Walmart and Whole Foods donate almost 40,000 lbs. of food per day, thanks to stringent regulations about what can and cannot stay on their shelves. The donated food is healthy and often organic, Boice said, because that’s the least likely to be sold to customers. “So much food is thrown away. We thought 30 per cent of [donated food] would go back to garbage, but we actually have less than 10 per cent that goes to landfills.”

The aim is to create reliable and dignified access to sufficient, quality, nutritious food. Many of the people Mustard Seed helps are low-income families who utilize services like counselling, banking, cooking and parenting classes, as well as assistance finding court liaisons and housing. In September, they provided over 750 kids with back-to-school kits and will provide free tutoring throughout the school year.

“The whole goal is to be able to break the cycle of poverty and start the continuum of care,” Boice said. “Poverty can be generational and we are committed to stopping the cycle.”

For those wishing to donate directly to Mustard Seed, click here.

kristyn.anthony@vicnews.com