Grocers get together to help people unable to afford healthy food

Five local grocers have temporarily put aside their competitive instincts to collaborate for a common goal — the 2020 Island Food Caring campaign, which launched Thursday.

The three-week campaign aims to raise awareness and funds for the community’s hidden hungry — the more than 50,000 people in the capital region who are unable to afford healthy food.

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Thrifty Foods, The Root Cellar, Country Grocer, Fairway Market and Red Barn Market have joined forces in support of the Food Rescue Project, which collects healthy but imperfect food from the grocery-retailer partners and redistributes it to people in need through the Food Security Distribution Centre.

The centre is operated by Mustard Seed Street Church and the Food Share Network, a collaboration of more than 70 not-for-profit organizations.

“Food recovery is a collaborative effort that continues to strengthen our communities by putting fresh, healthy food back into the mouths of our local families,” said Janiene Boice, senior director at the Mustard Seed.

The Food Rescue Project was launched in 2017, thanks to $200,000 in funding by the Victoria Foundation and The Rotary Club.

“Food security is one of our top priorities,” said Sandra Richardson, CEO of the Victoria Foundation.

“Thanks to the participation of these local grocers and the charities working to make it happen, we’re in a better position than ever to reach our most [food] insecure neighbours.”

More than 55 organizations participating in the Food Rescue Project distribute fresh food to more than 35,000 people in the capital region.

The program recovers up to 4,550 kilograms of fruits, vegetables, and dairy products every day and redistributes them six days a week. It diverts more than 1.4-million kilograms of food from the landfill annually.

The Island Food Caring campaign will run at participating grocery stores Feb. 27 to March 22. You can donate at the till or through the program’s website.

parrais@timescolonist.com

• For more information, go toislandfoodcaring.ca.

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