Save-On-Foods in Williams Lake can now say they are a zero food waste grocery store thanks to a new program they employed called Loop Resource, which diverts unsellable food to the local food bank and area farms.
“Nobody wants to throw out food,” said Jaime White, Loop Resource new projects director, who was in Williams Lake recently to implement the program.
He said grocery stores backed away from donating food to the needy and farms in the 1990s after being sued, but they are now finding their way back to a more sensible approach, White said, because Loop Resource shoulders the liability and streamlines the process for staff.
“We can take the pain out of it and let stores do the right thing. If this food can feed people then it should.”
White explained the food first goes to the food kitchen and food bank. Then, if it’s not suitable for human consumption, it is donated to a network of area farms to feed their animals. Quite often, farmers are so pleased with the program White said they will often re-donate an animal for food back to the food bank.
“It’s a really cool symbiosis that develops. Every single farm said they want to help.”
On the first day that Loop food was delivered to the Salvation Army recently, food bank worker Tari Davidge said there were a lot of happy faces, and clapping and cheering from clients.
“They loved it,” she said of the extra fresh food in their hampers, such as gourmet cheese and hamburger patties.
“It’s a big treat for them.”
Tamara Robinson, director of family services and community outreach director with the Williams Lake Salvation Army, said the new stream of beautiful foods given to them by Save-On-Foods will bolster their lunch program and provide much-needed protein for the food hampers, which is accessed by about 600 families every month.
“This is just fantastic and it’s going to the families who need it the most,” Robinson said. “It just changes everything for us and our guests.”
Robinson said the addition of high quality proteins now being donated by Save-On-Foods allows the Salvation Army the chance to put more money toward programs, and will also help clients save money to keep up with necessities such as money for medication and rent.
The need for the Salvation Army’s food and services in Williams Lake has steadily increased since the 2017 wildfires, and is especially important now with the difficulties in the forest industry and even the closure of Mount Polley Mine earlier this year, Robinson noted.
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“I know there are families out there struggling, but they just can’t bring themselves to walk through our doors. They have too much pride to come to the food bank,” Robinson said, urging those residents to reach out to her.
“We can even meet you at the back door, whatever it takes.”
Robinson reiterated she couldn’t say enough about the good work of Save-On-Foods in Williams Lake and their generous support.
“Save-On-Foods is a massive community champion. We wouldn’t survive without our relationship with Save-On-Foods. They are vital to what we do.”