Second Harvest – Salt Spring Food Recovery

Second Harvest logo

Second Harvest is the new Salt Spring Island Community Services (SSICS) food recovery project initiated with Country Grocer. Thrifty Foods is a welcome new partner and SSICS and SSICS has also received a Victoria Foundation grant directed towards refrigeration and transportation. The project is intended to involve many more community partners and donors in this initiative to enhance local food systems and reduce waste.

Every week on Salt Spring approximately 200 people are served by the SSICS Food Bank, with 40-50 of those being children. The organization also provides over 500 meals per month on average through various programs throughout the organization and distributes thousands of dollars worth of vouchers through the Farmers’ Market Nutritional Coupon program.  Efforts of other community organizations such as the Seniors’ Center, Stone Soup, church organizations and Copper Kettle further highlight the level of need on Salt Spring.

At the same time, food waste is at an all time high.  According to Food Banks BC it is estimated that we waste 40% of all food produced in Canada, $31 Billion worth every year in Canada, much of this being healthy, viable, nutritious food sent to landfills.  30% of fruits and vegetables are rejected by supermarkets for cosmetic reasons.

Salt Spring Community Services and Country Grocer have converted a container in Ganges to a refrigeration unit that will serve as a storage and distribution point for recovered food from grocery stores and farms on Salt Spring that will otherwise be wasted.

Distribution channels will include meal programs throughout the organization and community, as well as a number of new and innovative ways of getting food directly into homes and fridges around the island along with the SSICS food bank.

“This week we’ll be flipping the switch and turning on our refrigeration unit located behind the Core Inn on McPhillips Avenue in Ganges,” said Simone Cazabon, Food Security Coordinator at SSICS. “We’ve been piecing together a small food recovery program using fridges in various locations, but this marks the official start of a scaled operation that will be able to take advantage of available perishable food from Country Grocer, Thrifty Foods, our own farm in the Burgoyne Valley and other participating farms and businesses. We are starting with fresh produce with the goal of adding dairy, baked goods and other perishables as our capacity builds.”

While the exact volume of recovered food remains to be seen, the project is aimed towards island self sufficiency both in food production, distribution and in waste management as well as all the other sustainability factors entering the equation with food transportation and storage.

Donations of funding and volunteer time for this exciting new initiative are most welcome and an integral part of supporting ongoing operations.  Any one interested in participating in the project can contact Simone Cazabon at SSICS at 250-537-9971 ext. 230.

Listen to the radio 1 ‘All Points West’ show interview with Simone Cazabon, Food Security Coordinator with Salt Spring Island Community Services from August 25, 2017.