Food banks across Niagara partner up to share food

·2 min read

A new food sharing initiative between food banks in Niagara is looking to increase variety to clients while minimizing food waste.

Village of Hope Niagara (VoH) in Lincoln has partnered with three organizations, including Open Arms Mission in Welland, to share donations and food across their new network.

As food is donated to the organizations, they often find that they have too much of one thing and aren’t able to distribute it to clients before it expires. On the flip side, they may have too little of something and need to top up their stocks.

For instance, since VoH is in the fruit belt, they get lots of fresh fruit and vegetables, which can then be shared with a less rural area like Welland. VoH may then get tinned goods to top up their own stocks, balancing what is available at each food bank.

“It’s a win-win for everyone,” said Cheryl Keddy-Scott, executive director of Village of Hope Niagara.

So far, there are four partners in the program, and Keddy-Scott is inviting other food banks to participate in the project.

Over the past two months, the program has resulted in over 5,000 pounds of food being exchanged.

“It’s great to see (food) getting into the homes and mouths of those who need it,” said Keddy-Scott.

In addition, the initiative helps to reduce food waste, since food banks often do not have sufficient cold storage for the amount of fresh food they may receive. Through this scheme, a food bank would be able to exchange it with another in the region, so food gets to other clients.

Keddy-Scott estimates that it reduces food waste by 10 to 20 per cent.

The initiative comes at an important time when registrations at food banks continue to rise. The pandemic caused a surge in registrations, which Keddy-Scott thought would plateau as the impact of COVID-19 waned.

However, the cost-of-living crisis has caused more families to sign up for food bank services. Keddy-Scott estimates that three or four new families were registering per week at the start of July.

Chris Pickles, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, Grimsby Lincoln News

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