Hot on the heels of his last great community fundraising idea purchasing and selling off vintage Kimberley Alpine Resort skilift chairs, Jim Webster presented $1500 to both the Kimberley Food Bank and to Healthy Kimberley’s Food Recovery Program after selling prints of a photo he shot of Fisher Peak.
Webster said he was out for a walk in Forest Crowne with his wife Babs when she suggested they head over to the Butte to try and capture an image of the full moon rising. While they were there he got a beautiful shot of the alpen glow on Fisher Peak.
He went home and when he woke up the next morning at 4 a.m. — Webster has a self proclaimed weird sleep schedule — he put the picture up on Facebook. By the time he had fallen back asleep and woken up again, the picture had a whole bunch of photos and comments. This gave him the idea to turn the shot into a fundraiser for the Food Bank.
He put the picture up on the Kimberley Cork Board and when, after half an hour it didn’t have any engagements, he thought he’d take it down, but Babs was hurrying him out the door and so he left it up. When they returned from their outing the emails and messages from people wanting one of the prints were flooding in.
Webster printed the photo onto canvases and sold them for $50 each and within a matter of days, Webster had sold 60 of them.
“It’s the most I’ve ever sold of any picture in my life,” he said with a laugh. “Now everybody in Kimberley will all have the same picture.”
After presenting a much appreciated cheque for $1500 to Heather Smith at the Kimberley Food Bank, the Bulletin accompanied Webster to Healthy Kimberley’s Food Recovery Program, where he presented another cheque for $1500 to coordinator Shannon Grey Duncan, who then gave everyone a tour of the facility.
“Everybody knows about the Food Bank and there’s a lot of fundraisers for the Food Banks and a lot of money going there,” Webster said. “But I had talked to one of the volunteers here [at Food Recovery] and they said ‘well it would be really nice if you could make part of your donation come here because we’re making the food.’”
Webster asked Duncan how a donation such as his would be put to use.
“Right now, any kind of community donations like this are going straight into our frozen meal production,” Duncan explained. “Because we have a little bit extra production happening right now, we have a little more flexibility with extra funds to add ingredients so we can make sure we can make more meals over this holiday period particularly, we’ve doubled our production.
“So certainly buying some extra ingredients to make sure we can make those meals that are being requested. Packaging for sure, and we do contract our chefs, we pay them a good wage and they’re all professionals and amazing in the kitchen and amazing people.”
Save-On-Foods is the most regular donator of recovered food, and volunteers pick up from them on Mondays, Wednesdays and Fridays. They also pick up once a week from Superstore in Cranbrook.
Bins of food are brought in and sorted into edible food or compost and packaging. The bins are then washed and sanitized before being sent back to Save-On-Foods. There are volunteers who do pickups and drop offs as well as volunteers that do sorting.
There are three sorting tables, all positioned to accommodate proper social distancing, and they have up to three volunteers working in a shift.
“Our volunteers are the heart of this place,” Duncan said. “We depend so heavily on our volunteer team and we have an incredibly dedicated force of volunteers so I can’t say enough and stress how much how they are the most important piece, like we could not do anything without their support and dedication to everything.”
The Food Recovery Project, which earlier this month surpassed 100,000 pounds of food collected, had three months in the spring where they were 100 per cent doorstep delivery to all of their agencies and other clients and at the same time they were recovering an average of twice as much food because of the way supply chains were affected.
“There was an interesting perspective from here on how consumers were buying differently and suppliers were able to supply differently and much less predictability on every level everything was just crazy,” Duncan said. “Restaurants shutting down, so we were getting restaurant ingredient donations. Bulk ingredients and restaurant suppliers, there was a lot of action in the spring.”
Normally they have agencies come in at their convenience to get stuff for their clients and once a week open their doors to the public, so if there’s anything perishable left after the agencies pick up, they offer that to the public.
“The beauty of it is because people are motivated for different reasons, everyone’s motivated to some extent with the food bill because food is more and more expensive, but some people that’s more of a motivator,” Duncan explained.
“Other people reducing food waste is more of a motivator, so because of that it’s really non-stigmatizing food access because no one knows why you’re here. It doesn’t matter everyone’s welcome and so it really kind of opens up, it’s just a really welcoming source of food for people and it’s a nice mix of people because of those different motivations.”
Webster said he hopes this project may inspire others to pursue fundraising ideas, regardless of what they may be.
“I thought it was important to come here and show that what started as such a simple idea, is that it doesn’t have to be complicated for people to donate,” he said. “If you’ve got a crazy idea or a crazy fundraiser, go for it.”
For the month of December, the Food Recovery Project, which is located on the back side of the Kimberley Health Centre, Fridays 11 a.m. to 12:30 p.m. They also have special dates for pick up on Tuesdays Dec. 22 and 29 and Wednesdays Dec. 23 and 30.