In Our Community

Community Rallies to Support Food Recovery Project

By Interior Savings
June 18, 2019

Never underestimate the power of dedication, passion and a love of community. Along with an army of 100 volunteers, Joy Haxton, Manager at Lake Country Food Assistance Society, has shifted the traditional food bank model and inspired a community to rally around them to make a very big goal a reality.

Living in the Okanagan, many of us are accustomed to an abundance of fresh fruit and vegetables for several months of the year, but for those who access Food Banks to help put food on their table, that story can be much different. With limited space and lack of appropriate means to process and store perishables it can be difficult for Food Banks to take donations of fresh produce, as well as meats, dairy and items that are close to expiration. As a result, the food that is so desperately needed by many, ends up in the landfill.

Wanting to help those they serve in the best possible way and leverage the abundance of perishable donations coming through their doors, the Society hatched a plan to develop the lower level of their food bank into a receiving, handling and storage facility for perishable food items. An important component of the project was to meet food safe criteria, and so with a successful application to Interior Savings’ Community Investment Fund, the Lake Country Food Society was able to install stainless steel sinks, counters and tables, as well as purchase food safe tubs and weigh scales.

“Thanks to the support from Interior Savings, we can now safely clean and sort perishable food collected from grocery stores and food vendors, and distribute them to food bank clients or other organizations in need”, says Joy Haxton. “In 2018 alone, 169,500 pounds of nutritional perishable food was recovered by Lake Country Food Assistance Society and rerouted to people in need. We’ve gone from helping 500 individuals a month to over 5000!”

We’re thrilled we could help in such a meaningful way. And happy to say that’s only part of this incredible story. A number of individuals, community groups and companies stepped up and lent a hand in a big way to make this project a success, and some continue to be involved to ensure its sustainability. Ongoing support from Sysco, Save-On-Foods and local growers has also been critical to the success of this project. Thousands upon thousands of pounds of perishable food has been recovered and shared with families in our community.

In addition to that, Lake Country Food Assistance Society has created a network amongst eleven other food banks and related non-profit organizations across the Valley. Acting as the hub, the Society distributes any overflow of food to the other organizations. Rural food banks that previously opened once per month, are now open weekly to give their clients the opportunity to access perishable foods.

As a cooperative organization, collaboration and partnering for the betterment of our community is not only a value we hold close, but one we celebrate given the opportunity. A big virtual high five to all those involved for helping make this project a reality. And to Joy and her team, thank you for inspiring the community to rally around this initiative and sparking an incredible waterfall of collaboration across communities for the betterment of all.