The Living Edge, a local non-profit that hosts free food markets, is desperate for a new van. (Facebook/ The Living Edge)

Victoria charity desperate for new van to deliver free groceries

The Living Edge Community runs free farmers’ style markets six days per week

A local non-profit offering free food is in dire need of a new van.

Six days a week, the Living Edge Community picks up produce donations from local grocery stores and offers them for free at farmers’ style markets across Greater Victoria.

“You choose what you like. You don’t have to give your name, don’t have to prove what you earn, you don’t even have to talk to anybody,” said Neil van Heerden, executive director. “Though, of course, if you want to talk, it’s a community and everyone is friendly.”

Around 90 per cent of all the donated food is fresh produce, and every evening sites can see upwards of 100 people picking up groceries.

“You can’t imagine how much food we go through,” van Heerden said. “If each person takes two grocery bags, and you times that by 100, that’s quite a lot.”

He estimates around 5,000 families use the markets each month.

ALSO READ: Lions Food Bank asking for food donations

The logistics of transporting the food works thanks to two vans, a smaller one donated by Thrifty Foods, and a larger van that Living Edge purchased in 2013 for $3,500.

“If a donor phones us up and says they have three skids of say, orange juice, we need to be able to get there fast,” van Heerden said. “Even then, we can only fit one skid at a time.”

The van has been a sturdy staple of Living Edge, but it’s on its last days.

“The transmission is gone, so it keeps slipping out, the seats are starting to break so it’s not safe… The steering isn’t great either and we need all the brakes and tires replaced,” said van Heerden. “Plus, it’s just not very nice to look at.”

ALSO READ: Sooke Food Bank looking for help

Basic repairs would be at least $4,500, a sum not worth investing into a van with over 214,000 km on it.

van Heerden estimates that they’ve got another month or two of use, and will then need to get creative with their smaller van.

The community is now fundraising for a new van, with a goal of hitting $15,000.

“If we raise enough, we could even get one with air conditioning, so at least when we’re driving around the produce could stay kind of cool,” van Heerden said.

For more information on where the Living Edge Communities happen every week, or to make a donation to the group, you can visit livingedge.ngo.

nicole.crescenzi@vicnews.com


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Volunteers and staff at The Living Edge Community unload some produce for a local food markets. Their main van is on its last legs (File contributed/ Deborah Price)

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