Eldho’s Your Independent Grocer is helping to diversify and improve the quality of the food and items available in the Salvation Army’s food bank via a ‘food box program’.
The program allows customers to buy boxes filled with food at five different potential tiers: $5, $10, $15, $20, or $25. The food stored inside the boxes tends to be worth a little bit more than what the customers are actually paying.
The money is then stored up in a fund, which gets used to buy products to fill particular needs and wants of Salvation Army food hamper clients.
“What we would do, is depending upon what the food bank needs, we order the products for them,” said Eldho Thankachan, owner of Your Independent Grocer in Fernie.
“It’s not just the same product which goes in there all the time. It’s different products which goes in there.”
On Jan. 25, a van loaded with $2,900 worth of food items collected through the food box program was sent to the Salvation Army. This was the second donation made to them via the food box program, which began in July, 2021.
Eldho’s grocer also donates “a significant amount” to the Salvation Army via their food share program, but the food box program is unique, according to Reanne Tanton, community service worker with the Salvation Army.
Tanton said they “have a bit more choice and flexibility” with what they receive through the food boxes, adding that it’s “really been beneficial.”
“We get higher quality products through this program, which can help us have more of a nutritional value… and meet the needs of our clients better,” she said.
Some examples of the food donated through the last delivery are: frozen cauliflower and broccoli, jam and peanut butter, canned fruit packed in water, and cereal.
Thankachan said he’s seen that “there is a huge need of food for the community,” adding that he’s seen people cry when they come in and can’t afford food.
“The food is one of the most common things which is definitely needed for Fernie. And that is the reason,” he said.
“It’s not just the basic food that they need, I want to provide them the quality food.”
But it isn’t only food that the food box program provides. They also fill needs for baby food and products, animal food, and hygiene products.
“It’s really great, because… the program allows us to order what we need for our food bank. But it also… allows us to order higher quality products, and food for individuals for all ages, as well as personal care items, and items for pets as well — dog and cat food,” Tanton said.
Eldho’s has collected about $6060 from customers through the program to be used for donations, and on the store side they have donated about $3,500 worth of food, Thankachan said.
“The people in Fernie have been taking this program very positively.”
“Anything that we can do for the community, we’re always happy to do.”