By Tim Collins
Achieving food security for those most in need within Greater Victoria is one step closer by virtue of the work of the Mustard Seed Street Church. It recently leased 13,500 square feet of warehouse space at a new location on Viewfield Road in Esquimalt, a move that will allow the organization to more effectively collect and distribute the 6,000 pounds of food they give out on a daily basis to individuals in need.
The most important aspect of the new warehouse space is that over half of it will be refrigerated and dedicated to fresh produce, an increasingly important component of the agency’s food baskets.
“We have a warehouse in Duncan from which we were trucking in food twice weekly, but given our increasing focus on the region, the Duncan location was becoming less relevant to our operation here,” said Allan Lingwood, Mustard Seed development director. He said the 2015 bylaw, limiting the disposal of organic goods in the landfill, as well as the generous support of food retailers like Thrifty’s, have combined to make perishable food available to organizations like the Mustard Seed.
“We were trucking in food from Duncan twice a week, and it really became critical for us to have a central hub for the perishable goods where we could store them, and quickly turn them around and get them out to our clients,” he said.
The Mustard Seed currently distributes 2,200 hampers to over 5,000 clients per month — hampers which now include a significant amount of fresh produce, thanks in large part to the support of large corporate donors.
As a kick-off to hunger awareness week, and to help fill the new warehouse with critically required donations, the Mustard Seed is challenging Victoria to engage in the third annual Pie Off Challenge. The challenge began on Sept. 21 and will continue until Oct. 31 when a weigh-in and collection day at the Mustard Seed will tally up donations.
The event is essentially a friendly pie fight, in which challengees are pasted with shaving cream pies (no wasted food here) and called upon to make a video to challenge others through social media to do the same and donate to the cause. The goal is to raise $100,000 in cash and 100,000 pounds of food.
Information on joining the challenge, or just making a donation can be found at mustardseed.ca.