The Rotary Clubs of Greater Victoria is joining forces with the Victoria Foundation and 11 local Thrifty Foods grocery stores to bring one enormous food rescue project to life.
Representatives from Rotary, the Victoria Foundation, Thrifty Foods, the Food Share Network and The Mustard Seed gathered at the Cloverdale Thrifty in Saanich to launch the new partnership on May 14.
“Our aim is 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 CRD through the Food Share Network” said Lorna Curtis, Rotary assistant governor. “If we succeed, this same system could be implemented in other communities, and we know the need is there.”
The goal is to create infrastructure to move fresh produce quickly enough – while maintaining food-safe refrigeration levels at all points of travel and storage – so that it can be used safely and responsibly rather than go to waste. That fresh food would then be distributed to vulnerable populations in the community.
Rotarians for Food Rescue are hoping to raise $100,000 by selling raffle tickets ($5 each, or 3 for $10) toward the grand prize draw of a 2015 Nissan Rogue. All funds raised will be matched by the Victoria Foundation, said CEO Sandra Richardson.
Richardson said her organization has been working hard to identify gaps in the current food system and find solutions.
“No one group can do this alone. We believe in collaboration to ensure that everyone in our community has access to affordable and nutritious food,” she said.
Thrifty Foods Senior Director Retail Operations Ralf Mundel said food waste can be painful for everyone.
“We’ve all known that pain – whether it’s tossing out a spoiled head of lettuce at home and regretting the waste, or when we remove a slightly damaged but still edible piece of fruit from the shelf at work. And we know, as a community, that we can do better,” Mundel said.
The Food Share Network, a collaborative effort between agencies seeking to address food insecurity in Greater Victoria, will divert perishables to a member agency that can immediately redirect the food to a food insecure family or individual.
“We currently see a significant lack of quality fresh fruits, vegetables and proteins in the system for families and individuals who are experiencing food insecurity in the CRD,” said Mustard Seed executive director Colin Tessier. “This project will significantly increase healthy food options, and the frequency with which people can access support, all leading to improved health outcomes and quality of life for thousands of people each month.”
Raffle tickets are available online at rotaryraffle.ca as well as through a mobile ticket booth that will travel throughout the CRD from now until the grand prize draw on August 9, 2015.
For the diversion of perishable foods to be successful, the produce will have to be collected daily and incorporated into the Food Share Network distribution system across the CRD.