Focus on Fresh
Improving access to fresh food in all parts of the country.
Fresh Product Across The Country
A few examples of how food banks across the country are working to prioritize access to fresh produce for their clients.
PROVIDING INDIVIDUALS AND FAMILIES WITH ACCESS TO THE MOST NUTRITIOUS FOOD
Inspired by the bounty of the community gardens that can be found throughout the Sarnia-Lambton area, staff and volunteers of the Inn of Good Shepherd decided to mobilize local gardeners who had extra produce to donate to the food bank in 2013.
To their pleasant surprise, the amount of food that was donated was even more than they could imagine — enough to create their successful Mobile Market program, which has redistributed over 737,000 lbs. of high-quality, fresh food to partner agencies in the community since inception.
“Clients in our communities loved that they were able to have access to fresh and nutritious food. We started getting calls from people asking us if we could do it again and the following year, we received a grant. Thanks to new funds, we were able to invest in storage and refrigerated trucks and do our mobile market every week from July to October, and we are up to 14 locations now. A side benefit is we have some farmers who wanted to donate, but they just did not want to pay for the transportation because it’s very costly for them. So, we talked to our government who passed a bill and gave a tax credit to farmers that donate to food banks, and this increased the donations from the farmers.”
– Myles Vanni, Executive Director, Inn of Good Shepherd
SHARING FRESH PRODUCE ACROSS COMMUNITIES
Since 2012, the UHC – Hub of Opportunities’ Farm to Food program has worked with growers in the rich agricultural region of Essex County to donate high-quality surplus food to hunger-relief agencies in more than 40 municipalities across Ontario, including Indigenous communities in northern parts of the province.
Through the program, a total of more than 596,200 pounds of produce that would have otherwise ended up in landfills has been transformed into cost-effective meals to date, such as nutritious soups and stews for food-insecure Ontarians who need them the most.
“We live in an area where we have the largest number of greenhouse growers in North America, and at our food bank, we have a beautiful 1.6 acre of land that has been transformed into community gardens, and we are rescuing a lot of fresh produce and sharing it throughout Ontario including the North. So, we are not only helping our communities but other communities as well”.
– June Muir, Executive Director, UHC – Hub of Opportunities
WORKING WITH FARMERS AND DISTRIBUTORS TO RESCUE FOOD
Due to their strong relationship with local farmers, wholesalers and manufacturers, the Greater Vancouver Food Bank (GVFB) reports that 50–60% of the food they currently distribute to clients every week is fresh.
In the summer months when local fruits are in abundance, the GVFB even sends a large, refrigerated truck to the B.C. Interior to pick up cherries, pears, apples and more from their farmer partners in the area.
“We are working with multiple retailers very closely, to rescue perfectly safe-to-eat food that would otherwise go to landfill. We have a primary focus on pre-consumer food, so our clients are getting the same quality food as they would at a grocery store.”
– Jodie Ou, Communications Officer, Greater Vancouver Food Bank
FARMING & COMMUNITY GREENHOUSES
Food bankers aren’t afraid to get their hands dirty to help alleviate hunger. From coast to coast to coast, the network of food banks collects hundreds of thousands of pounds of high-quality, fresh food for people experiencing food insecurity through a combination of seasonal gleaning and growing. Farming plots or community greenhouses and garden beds managed by food banks also create supportive environments where individuals can learn to grow their own nutritious ingredients for improved self-sufficiency.
This past year Ottawa Food Bank grew almost 50 thousand pounds of produce, including beans, kale, broccoli, lettuce, cabbage, okra, cauliflower, onions, cucumbers, tomatoes, eggplants, zucchini and garlic!
Fredricton’s Greener Village food bank in New Brunswick grows more than 4,000 pounds annually of high quality produce of all kinds for its clients. Learn More