Fourteen per cent of Greater Victoria residents lack access to fresh food, according to the Victoria Foundation. Meanwhile, says 2012 research from the Natural Resources Defense Council, the average grocery store throws out some US$2,300 of food each day.
Thrifty Foods is keen to reconcile these numbers with a plan to make productive use of unsold fruits and vegetables that would otherwise end up in compost by distributing them to vulnerable populations in Victoria.
As is the practice of most grocers, Thrifty regularly takes food off the shelves when items approach their best-before dates.
But rather than throw those items out the Victoria-based Sobeys banner–in partnership with the Food Share Network, the Victoria Foundation and the Rotary Clubs of Greater Victoria–is developing a solution for transporting, storing and distributing this unsold produce so that it can be delivered to needy families in the Greater Victoria Area.
In addition to consumers of local-area food banks and community centres, Rotarians for Food Rescue organizers are keen to reach non-food-bank users who don’t otherwise have easy access to fresh fruits and veggies.
As an initial step in this effort, Thrifty sponsored a rotary club car raffle aimed at fundraising $100,000, and supplied the $27,000 prize.
The Victoria Foundation said it would match the funds raised and the combined purse will underwrite the creation of a central distribution centre where unsold produce can be stored and sorted.
“Food waste is painful for everyone,” says Ralf Mundel, senior director of operations for Thrifty, which operates 26 retail grocery stores across the Lower Mainland, Vancouver Island and Saltspring Island. “As a community, we can do better.”