A set of five Victoria-area grocery stores have put the usual rigours of competition aside to come together to further support the Food Rescue Project.
The Victoria Foundation is behind the new campaign, Island Food Caring, and met with all five grocery store operators at Threshold Housing’s Oak Bay house on Granite Street late last month to announce the new initiative.
Victoria Foundation will match every dollar up to $25,000 throughout the campaign, which runs June 1 to 23.
Fairway Markets vice president Robert Jay said that 14 per cent of the region’s population are food insecure, meaning their meals are not planned ahead of time, and that money for groceries is scarce. Fairway Market is one of the participating grocery stores with Country Grocer, Red Barn Market, The Root Cellar and Thrifty Foods supporting the campaign.
“That’s roughly 50,000 people who are food insecure,” Jay said. “It’s families, children, youth, seniors, and our neighbours who don’t always know when their next meal is coming.”
It means not being able to live full and healthy lives, he added. It also has a negative affect on learning outcomes for youth.
“This is unacceptable,” Jay said. “In an affluent region such as Greater Victoria, no one should go hungry.”
Five years ago the Mustard Seed, Our Place, Cool Aid, Threshold Housing and other agencies came together to create a food sharing plan. With leadership from the Victoria Foundation, that partnership turned into the Food Rescue Project which launched about two years ago and has been growing ever since.
“We had some food sharing before but now it was on a smaller scale and it wasn’t as consistent,” said Derek Pace, executive director of Mustard Seed. “The Food Rescue Project delivers 4,000 pounds a day, to 46 agencies in the network.”
Last year a purpose-built kitchen and warehouse was created for the Food Rescue Project in Esquimalt. It’s become a model that volunteers in other municipalities are looking to adopt, said Sandra Richardson, CEO of Victoria Foundation.
The warehouse and kitchen will be the focus of a tour for visitors to the Community Foundations Conference, June 6 to 8, Richardson said.
“Victoria Foundation got its start as a soup kitchen, 83 years ago, in the Sunshine Inn on Pandora Avenue,” Richardson said. “Food has been a big part of its work since the beginning. A woman donated $20 to start the Victoria Foundation, and in those days, that was a lot of money.”
“Victoria Foundation has been a catalyst for this all to work,” said Colin Tessier, executive director of Threshold Housing. The youth housing charity has four houses, one of them the house beside Oak Bay United Church. “Victoria Foundation has had the leadership and funding to support the Food Rescue Project’s growth.”
To donate visit Islandfoodcaring.ca.