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Kimberley Food Recovery Depot continues to grow through COVID-19 pandemic

Healthy Kimberley’s Food Recovery Depot saw an increase in meals made during the pandemic.

The program started back in 2018 and takes food that is safe to eat, but no longer safe to sell and turns it into healthy accessible meals. The program is funded through the City of Kimberley, Columbia Basin Trust, Kimberley & District Community Foundation & United Way and other meal and breakfast foundations across Canada.

A volunteer packaging meals alongside a hired chef. (Supplied by Healthy Kimberley)

Shannon Duncan, the food recovery coordinator for Healthy Kimberley said they were able to increase their operations because of less group cooking and switching to a production format.

“The original proposal was written before COVID-19 was a thing at all. We were anticipating a lot of group cooking, tonnes of senior and youth volunteer involvement on-site in the kitchen and then eating together,” said Duncan. “Any access would then go to the Kimberley helping hands food bank. A lot of those things were pretty inappropriate this year and we switched quite quickly to a production model, contracting professional cooks to produce the meals.”

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According to Duncan, these changes made it easier to get meals out to different groups around Kimberley.

“We were able to provide more meals and the impact of the program was much higher due to the increased production,” said Duncan. “A lot more relationships were developed with local donors and agencies which increased the impact of this program a lot.”

Duncan said from May 2020 to May 2021, 13,815 meals and 6,240 snacks have been prepared. Volunteers at the Food Recovery Depot now average 175 hours monthly.

Don McCormick, Kimberley’s Mayor, said City Council was pleased to hear the program has been so successful.

“The report from Shannon at the Food Recovery Depot is very informative,” said McCormick. “In fact, I don’t think there was anybody on council, or for that matter, members of the public that really understood how big that program has currently become. They have been doing an absolutely outstanding job.”

McCormick said the biggest surprise to him was the amount of food that was kept from being thrown out.

“In addition to all the meals and snacks that have been delivered, the one stat that really jumped out for me is that in the last two and a half years since the food recovery depot has been open, they have processed over 142,000 pounds of food and of that 142,000 pounds only 1,100 pounds has ended up in the garbage,” said McCormick. “If you think about it, all 142,000 pounds probably would have ended up in the garbage prior to this program being in place. It has just been an incredible success.”

Below is a list of places and organizations the Food Recovery Depot currently delivers to.

  • Kimberley Helping Hands Food Bank
  • Blarchmont Early Years Centre
  • Seniors Helping Seniors
  • Home Support Nursing
  • ʔaq̓am School
  • ʔaq̓am Community Pantry
  • Gardenview (low-income residents)
  • Local Schools: Selkirk Secondary, McKim, Kimberley Alternate, Kimberley Independent
  • Bellies to Babies Pregnancy Outreach
  • Food Recovery Depot Doorstep Delivery Clients

According to Duncan, future plans for the program include a shared library of recipes and bi-weekly, small-group volunteer cooking sessions.

Meals prepared at Healthy Kimberley’s Food Recovery Depot. (Supplied by Healthy Kimberley)

**Story by Josiah Spyker**

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