A flourishing partnership between a Grand Forks supermarket and a city church is strengthening food security across the Boundary.
Based out of Donaldson Drive’s Gospel Chapel, the program delivers unsold food from Extra Foods to people in need from Christina Lake to Bridesville on Highway 3, all the way north to Beaverdell on Highway 33.
“It’s free food given freely,” coordinator Tammy Battersby told The Gazette during a tour of the chapel’s Blessings Kitchen Wednesday, Sept. 29.
Program volunteers have distributed 115,000 pounds of rescued food since efforts got underway in February. Everything from dented cookie boxes, blemished fruits and veggies, to extra meat and dairy products are shuttled to organizations like the Boundary Community and Greenwood food banks, the Rock Creek food share program and Beaverdell’s lunch program.
The program owes its success as much to Extra Foods’ owner Steve Pike, who reached out to Battersby on behalf of the Second Harvest Food Rescue initiative, as to Battersby’s working relationship with her colleagues at these and other community service providers (CSPs).
“There’s been a huge improvement in food security across the Boundary since we started working together,” Battersby said, noting that big city CSPs typically bid against each other for access to supermarket food donors. “Here in the Boundary, we’re able to cooperate because we make decisions about how to work together,” she continued.
The program wouldn’t’ve worked without volunteers like Grand Forks’ Carol Steele, who said she once relied on Blessings to get through the week.
“It’s great to be able to give back, because I know what it’s like not to have food,” she told The Gazette.
People like Steele, who ironed out the logistical kinks in the kitchen’s production line, make some of the best volunteers, according to Battersby.
Speaking for Extra Foods, Pike said, “We got behind the program because it was hard to watch so much food that was getting wasted.”
To this point, Battersby explained that food wastage not only contributes to hunger, but also drives climate change when rotting food gives off methane gas. Food recovery is first and foremost about helping people, but it’s no mean feat that the program has kept over 52 metric tonnes of food out of Boundary landfills since Extra Foods partnered with the Gospel Chapel in February.
For more information, please email Battersby at firstname.lastname@example.org.