Thursday, April 14, 2016

Loaves and Fishes - Nanaimo Food Bank

FOOD 4U recovery program hugely successful

At the Nanaimo committee of the whole meeting on April 11, Peter Sinclair the director of Loaves and Fishes Community Food Bank addressed council with an incredible success story that is feeding Nanaimo's hungry.

Loaves & Fishes Food bank was established in 1996 by Rev. Bill Purdy and Rev. Dawn Braithwaite. In 1998 they moved into their location on Farquhar Street. From that location God's unconditional love and presence continues to be experienced in wonderful ways. In 2008 a satellite facility was established at Brechin Church.

With the support of the community they opened additional depots beginning in Sept. 2009 with volunteers at St. Paul's Lutheran Church in Harewood, St. Andrew's Presbyterian Church on Departure Bay Road and Christ Community Church on Bowen Road, St Philip’s in Cedar, Neighbourhood Church in North Nanaimo and Generations Church in Central Nanaimo. These satellite locations help their clients access the food bank right in their own neighbourhoods.

Lots of food but no space

By 2014 the food bank had all sorts of food but their location on Farquhar Street was literally bursting at the seams with food being kept on tarp-covered pallets outside. That was when the opportunity came up to purchase a warehouse space within a block of their home on Farquhar Street and they came to city council to help make it happen.

One of the first big decisions this new council made was to support the food bank with a grant of $275,000.00 towards the building's purchase. The Port Authority came through with another $50,000.00 and local residents and businesses put up another $51,000.00. They also received a $25,000.00 walk-in cooler from Regional Recycling for the cost of moving it.

The new facility in conjunction with a refrigerated truck allowed the Food Bank to go full steam into the FOOD 4U food recovery program whereby they are able to collect food that is no longer suitable to be sold in the front of the local supermarket even though it is still perfectly good food, of excellent quality. This food would have been destined to landfill if it were not for the innovative FOOD 4U food recovery program which has been pioneered locally by Peter and his team.

$2,400,000.00 worth of food recovered in 2015

In April 2015 the program expanded to five local stores, Country Grocer, Thrifty foods and Superstore using the food recovery program. In 2015 there was an increase in food recovered from $1,600,000.,00 in 2014 to $2,400,000.00 in 2015!

In November of 2015 Cold Star Freight joined the program and contribute between 5 - 10 pallets of food each week, valued between $8,000 and $30,000.00.

Food shared with 30 other local agencies

From their abundance they are able to share food with over 30 other agencies and schools in the city. The Salvation Army, Food Share, School District 68, 7-10 Club, Aboriginal Centre and the Boys and Girls Clubs are just some of those benefiting from this successful program. 

In 2014 they provided $280,000.00 worth of food to other agencies and that has increased to $430,000.00 in 2015 and is projected to increase to over $700,000.00 in 2016.

Moving Forward

The finishing touches are being put on the warehouse space now and it is the hope of the Food Bank to be able to open to those in need on a regular basis daily so people may come and 'shop' at their convenience. Currently the food bank is open for pick up 6 hours per week, but it hoped that will change to 6 hours daily in the not too distant future.

One of the biggest challenges facing Peter and his team, is their own success. Currently they have an army of 600 volunteers that keep the wheels turning with three trucks on the road reliably picking up food from the businesses participating in the program. There is always a need for more help, and extra cash is never refused.

$1.00 = $4.30 ..... incredible leverage!

The business model of the food bank has changed dramatically since it began back in 1996. Back then people would buy a can of tuna for $1.00 and give it to the food bank, which in turn would distribute it to someone in need.

Now through the magic of the FOOD 4U food recovery program every $1.00 that is used to cover overhead expenses can be leveraged into $4.30 worth of food they can put out the door.

This is a 'made-in-Nanaimo' success story driven by an army of incredibly devoted staff, both paid and unpaid which has proven there is no reason for anyone to go hungry when there is the will and the way to recover all of that high quality food that previously had been simply thrown out.

For more information about the Loaves & Fishes Community Food Bank and their FOOD 4U Food Recovery Program visit their website.


1 comment:

  1. Nice not to have you go on about the 'poverty industry' looking for local tax dollars. Or is it because it's Christians?


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