We Love Fresh Food
(2 minute read)
By Matt Loewen
Visiting the Food Bank can be a humbling experience. On days when there is fresh produce to give out, the Food Bank provides dignity of choice and a glimmer of normalcy for the vulnerable individuals and families who come for food.
Growing up, my understanding of the Abbotsford Food Bank was formed by school food drives requesting non-perishable food items like cans of ravioli, canned vegetables and pasta. If I’m honest, I had no idea who would eventually get the food I brought to school, but in my mind, it was on par with “starving people in Africa”…just local.
After 12 years (actually living in Africa) I relocated my family to Canada and now find myself living in Abbotsford and working at the Food Bank. The cost of living in Abbotsford is high and more often than not, it feels like my family is doing all we can to simply pay our bills. Many people, for any number of reasons, find their monthly budget stretched to the point of breaking. After rent is covered, bills are paid, and transportation costs are scraped together there isn’t enough money left over to cover basic food and personal needs.
Of the 3000 people that pass through the Food Bank’s doors each month, 2% are homeless and 80% make less than $1,500 per month. We are also seeing an increase in senior guests that feel isolated and are unable to stretch their Canadian pension. The shopping cart of groceries we provide each month is supplemental relief for some and the difference between breaking even for others.
Although non-perishable food items still make up the majority of food distributed, five days a week, Abby Food Bank collects food from local retailers, grocers and farmers that would have otherwise ended up in the waste stream. We collect perishable items like fruit, vegetables, milk, bread and deserts that are donated because they are close to expiry, overstocked or have damaged packaging. In some cases, generous community members order fruit & vegetables from local grocers and we collect it. Fresh produce allows us to provide healthy food choices for families, so we’re always looking for additional sources.
I’m learning that life can be complicated, everyone has a story, people long for community and everyone appreciates a fresh apple or bread roll from time to time.
Would you like to join a team of people who love to ensure healthy food options are available to everyone?
The new Fresh Food Recovery program is our newest initiative to regularly provide fresh food to those in need by recovering food from local grocery stores. Here is a great way for you and your friends to get involved! Join a small team of volunteers to sort and process perishable food that is being received each morning at the Food Bank – Click here to sign up!