This month marks four years since the Healthy Kimberley Food Recovery Depot first opened its doors in November, 2018.
Since then, the program has diverted over 305,000 pounds of food deemed “not fit to eat” away from the landfill, with 80 per cent deemed edible and distributed through the community and the remaining 15 per cent sent to local farms.
Shannon Grey Duncan said that it is “humbling” looking back on how the Depot’s activities have evolved over the past four years.
For example, in the first year of operations, an average of 2580 pounds was recovered with 80 volunteer hours and 60 paid hours each month. Now in a month their food recovery and meal programs average 10,000 pounds of recovered food, 1000 servings of lovingly-prepared meals, 275 volunteer hours and 220 paid hours.
Grey Duncan said that building and nourishing relationships with volunteers, agencies, food donors, funders and the general public has been critical to this exponential success.
Their recovered food and frozen meals are distributed every week to 20 different agency partners including the Kimberley Helping Hands Food Bank, family and pregnancy outreach programs, local schools, seniors programs, churches and community groups.
Since April 2020, the city-owned Centennial Commercial Kitchen, as part of their Frozen Meal Program, has prepared 30,000 meal servings, which are distributed to vulnerable community members.
“Accessing meals through Healthy Kimberley has led to the creation of a weekly meal delivery service,” said Cathy Korven, Seniors Helping Seniors coordinator. “Most of our participants are elderly folks. This program has helped us to ensure they are getting wholesome food and are checked in on regularly. It also makes everyone feel cared for and comforted to see a familiar face at their door.”
Surplus food is made available to everyone at Open to Public every Friday from 12 p.m. to 1 p.m. There is no charge to organizations or individuals for recovered food, though donations are welcomed.
During the winter holidays they ramp up, adding more Open to Public Times, on Tuesdays December 20 and 27 from 12 p.m. to 1 p.m.
It’s also been a year since the program relocated within the Health Centre building, bringing new life to the original cafeteria of the Kimberley Hospital, and plans are in progress for recreating a commercial kitchen on site, which will increase meal production and opportunities for food literacy programming.
The support of the Kimberley Health Centre Society and the City of Kimberley has supported the facility’s needs by subsidizing rental rates.
Additionally, by partnering with the Kimberley Edible Garden and Greenhouse Society, Wildsight Kimberley/Cranbrook and backyard and farm harvest recoveries, Healthy Kimberley recovered over 10,000 pounds of locally-grown food over the growing season.
They also introduced a new initiative that collects pumpkins after Halloween to donate to farms for animal feed and compost. This alone diverted 1000 more pounds from the landfill.
“To maintain the steady increase in activity and continue to meet growing needs, we are working to diversify our funding to increase sustainability so that we can be increasingly effective, responsive and targeted in supporting our community,” Duncan Grey said.
“Almost all operational costs have been covered up to this point by grants. We’re grateful for this support and will continue to rely heavily on these funders. In addition, we are reaching out to our community for support.”
To support the Healthy Kimberley Food Recovery Depot or Meal Program you can make cheques out to Kimberley Wellness Foundation, the registered charity’s legal name. They provide tax receipts and accept cash or cheque donations on site.
Healthy Kimberley is currently seeking new, engaged board members, particularly to replace their outgoing treasurer, providing support for Food Recovery and other projects.
If you’re interested in getting involved, you can contact Shannon at 250-427-7981