Do you ever wonder what happens to leftover, dropped, bruised, or expired food from grocery stores? If you’ve seen the documentary Just Eat It , you’ll have an idea of the magnitude of food waste that ends up in dumpsters.
In SOME cities, this food might go into the garbage, but in Kamloops we are lucky to have a FoodSHARE truck that visits a number of area grocery retailers six days a week and brings their discarded food to the foodbank to be sorted and distributed to those in need.
Since February 2017, every Saturday, when the foodbank is closed, the truck delivers this food to the Mount Paul Food Centre where enthusiastic volunteers sort through and rescue anything that is still good to eat. The rest is put aside in bins for pick-up by area farmers who take it for their animals.
Once the food is sorted and laid out on tables, a certain amount is set aside for programs at the Centre, and then everyone is invited to take a share of the donations. This can sometimes be a bit of a frenzy and most Saturdays, before the signal to start, one of the leaders will ask everyone to take a moment to be grateful for the free food, and to be considerate of others as they go about making their selections. There is a broad mix of participants – some people just like to help out and reduce food waste, and others are there because of a genuine need.
While some of the produce is wilted, damaged, or otherwise less-than-perfect, it is not unusual to see bins full of beautiful fruit or vegetables without a bruise and wonder why the store was discarding it.
Whenever I attend Saturday Food Recovery, as we call it, I’m amazed at the speed and efficiency of the team. After doing this together for almost a year, the team works like a well-oiled machine. The whole process – set-up, sorting, distribution, and clean-up – takes about an hour. It’s a messy business and a lot of work, but everyone knows what to do, and before you know it, the hall is put back in order and no one would ever guess what just went on there.
I’m also struck by the spirit of camaraderie that has developed among the participants. It’s clear that people have gotten to know each other, are connecting outside of Food Recovery, and some friendships have formed. A year ago, this project was just a spark of an idea, and now it’s a well-established, successful program. It’s great to live in a community where people and organizations work together to make projects like this happen!