The Ladysmith Resource Centre Association (LRCA) Food Bank has teamed up with Nanaimo-based food bank distribution hub Loaves and Fishes to help recover food, and give more choice to food bank clients.
“One of the main benefits is that we’re able to provide so much more produce,” LRCA Food Security Coordinator Paula Masyk said. “Previously, we would get produce from Kiwi Cove during the gardening season, but after that we would buy all our produce. So we would only be able to offer what we could afford to buy.”
Kiwi Cove Community Garden is run by a group of volunteers at Kiwi Cove Lodge in Yellow Point. Volunteers have been growing fresh produce for the LRCA food bank since 2006.
All of the produce provided to the LRCA by Loaves and Fishes is recovered produce from grocery stores in Nanaimo, as well as Save On Foods in Ladysmith. Since the partnership began in November 2020, Loaves and Fishes has delivered 3,669 kilograms of food to the LRCA. The LRCA also collects items from 49th Parallel Grocer, and the Old Town Bakery.
“That’s over 3,000 kilograms of food that’s gone into families’ hands,” Loaves and Fishes Executive Director, Peter Sinclair said. “When a family comes to the food bank in Ladysmith and leaves with an extra three kilograms of produce that they didn’t have before, that’s huge. We can’t lose sight of the fact that there are individual people who are being given this healthy food. That’s what drives us to do this.”
With the savings on produce, the LRCA food bank can provide a wider range of items, and ultimately serve more clients.
“Even if we got a 30 percent increase in clients, we’re still covered,” Masyk said.
Volunteers at the LRCA and Loaves and Fishes sort through the recovered produce. Any produce that isn’t fit for human consumption is given to local farmers to use as animal feed. And any items that the food bank can’t use can be redistributed through Loaves and Fishes’ network of 19 food banks on Vancouver Island.
“We’re taking the expertise and equipment that we have in Nanaimo — and all the systems we have set up to get, frankly, massive amounts of food — and figuring out a way to have benefit beyond Nanaimo,” Sinclair said.