Four times the amount of food is being saved from landfill under a new partnership between a Fernie supermarket and food share program.
Nicole Knauf used to collect about 1500 pounds of food per month from local businesses on behalf of Fernie Fresh Food Share, which ensures families and individuals who are struggling financially do not have to go hungry.
Now, thanks to a joint initiative with Save On Foods, she collects this much every week.
The supermarket provides food from every department in the store. Previously, Knauf used to only collect food from the produce department. Now, she also collects from the deli, meat, dairy and bakery departments.
“It’s been insane, the increase in food,” said Knauf. “And the increase in types of food has been huge for people too. Now there’s meat and cheese, and dairy, that’s just super expensive for people to buy and for some people it’s just not realistic to buy it.”
The progam has never had a consistent meat supply before, Knauf explained. Occasionally, she would receive meat from the Fernie Cattle Company but not on a regular basis. Now, she gets meat five days a week.
This is part of the Zero Waste Initiative that Save On Foods has recently implemented, which is being replicated across the province.
Knauf still regularly collects food from other businesses around Fernie, including Starbucks, 7-11, Crumbs Cakery, Freshies and Red Apple, two days a week. There are several other businesses, such as The Loaf, Fernie Cattle Co., Blue Toque Gastro Diner, Bridge Bistro and Yamagoya Sushi that occasionally donate.
Since January this year, Fernie Fresh Food Share has prevented 17,582 pounds of food from being thrown away. Now, they have accelerated their collection amounts to 308 pounds every day. In the first 17 days of March, they have collected 3430 pounds of food.
None of the donated food is going to waste. According to the Salvation Army, between 40 and 70 individuals, some representing families, now utilize the food bank every day.
“The amount of people coming in has totally increased, all the food is going still on a day-to-day basis,” said Knauf.
Save On Foods Fernie Store Manager, Ryan Nesbitt said the store is excited to partner with Fernie Fresh Food Share and the Salvation Army Food Bank. He extended a large thanks to Knauf and all the food share volunteers, as well as the Salvation Army.
Knauf collects the food which then becomes available for pickup at the Fernie Salvation Army. Nesbitt said that without a partner in the community that will accept, sort and ensure that the products go to an available organization, their zero waste initiative would be very difficult.
Nesbitt further explained that because storage at the store is so limited, without daily pickups from people like Knauf, Save On Foods would not be able to hold their products for human consumption. He added that he is extremely proud of his team in Fernie for coming up with creative solutions to help them meet their zero waste goal.
“They are backing this initiative with a positive attitude knowing that they are helping those in need,” he said.
“On a personal level I’m thrilled to see this food go to good use. Every day we throw out food that is perfectly good for people to eat, which can be disheartening when you know there are people who are struggling to put food on the table. It’s so encouraging seeing the community adopt this.”