The People’s Pantry Food Recovery Society’s Healthy Hampers Program provides nutritious recovered food hampers on a weekly basis to seniors, single parents, and at-risk youth in the Tri-Cities, impacted by a variety of challenges including those arising from the COVID-19 pandemic, job loss, financial instability, and food insecurity issues. Since May, 2020, we have been operating as a food recovery society, working closely with community groups like the United Way Community builders, New view Society, SD43 (supporting CABE), and Westcoast Family Centers, building a base of regular hamper families and individuals. Since the onset of COVID in early 2020, we have seen an increased demand.
Every Sunday morning, our volunteers meet with Immigration Link volunteers at specific food retailers in our area to collect food and bring it to our distribution centre in Port Coquitlam.
Volunteers sort the food, following all Food Safety and COVID safety requirements.
Volunteers assemble hampers that are tailored to the needs of hamper recipients, including their age, number, and dietary requirements.
Hampers are picked up 3 days a week according to pre-arranged appointments by our hamper families.
To receive a hamper, you must register with us.
As Canadians, we are truly fortunate to live in a country where we have an abundance of food; however, that abundance has led us to many wasteful food management practices that ultimately results in 4 million Canadians, including 1.4 million children, struggling to access healthy food.
Source: Second Harvest
In the Second Harvest report The Avoidable Crisis of Food Waste: the roadmap the call to action is clear: we need to re-think how we value food at each stage of the value chain. The issue lies on both sides of the equation: there is a strong business, social, and environmental case to reduce food loss and food waste. Consumers play a big role as well – we over shop and allow food to spoil or throw it out because it passes its best before date because we think it is inedible. All told, 11.2 million tonnes of good, nutritious food is currently being wasted in Canada today; this is enough to feed everyone in Canada for 5 months.
Furthermore, approximately 30% of all food produced in the world is lost or wasted; in British Columbia, organic waste represents 40% of material sent to our landfills. As it decomposes, it generates significant levels of greenhouse gases which increase global warming and contributes to climate change. This equates to a global carbon footprint of approximately 4.4 billion tonnes of CO2 annually. Source: https://www2.gov.bc.ca/gov/content/environment/waste-management/food-and-organic-waste
Our average weekly recovered food donation from the 5 local stores we collect from on one day is 1200kg
Interested in donating surplus food? Contact us
At The People’s Pantry, we ensure safety, whether for our staff, volunteers, hamper families, or food, is always our top priority. When it comes to food safety, let’s talk about best before dates.
A best before date is not an expiry date and has little to do with food safety. All too often, consumers see a best before to mean “bad after” or worse. At the same time, food retailers and manufacturers are sometimes reluctant to donate food that is close to its best before date because of concerns around liability, reputation, or not knowing of organizations willing to accept this food.
In Canada, only 5 foods require expiry dates:
・Baby formula and other human milk substitutes
・Pharmacist-sold foods for very low-energy diets
・Formulated liquid diets
(picture from https://www.foodsafety.ca/blog/difference-between-best-and-expiry-dates
The People’s Pantry Society follows all BC Food Safe and food handling requirements.
COVID 19 Safety
During this time of COVID, The People’s Pantry follows all COVID safety protocols.
The following summarizes our Health and Safety Plan for the Healthy Hamper Project. At the center of everything is the importance we place on the safety and well-being of our volunteers and families. COVID-19 is spread in several ways and we recognize the risk of person-to-person transmission increases with proximity to others, the more time spent in proximity with others, and the number of people in any given space.
We follow all Provincial Health guidance, Workplace BC protocols, and Food Handling requirements to ensure a safe working environment for our volunteers and families and to reduce the spread of COVID-19 in our operation.
First level protection (Elimination)
Food Collection and Sorting Days
Food Hamper Days
There are many Food Safety and Food Recovery resources available:
Food Safety and Best Before Dates
The Difference Between Best Before and Expiry Dates, Canadian Institute of Food Safety https://www.foodsafety.ca/blog/difference-between-best-and-expiry-dates
Global News “Best before dates lead to waste by consumers” https://globalnews.ca/news/2288772/best-before-dates-lead-to-waste-by-consumers/
Canadian Food Focus “What does the best before date really mean?” https://canadianfoodfocus.org/in-your-kitchen/what-does-the-best-before-date-really-mean/
All about Food Recovery
Second Harvest https://secondharvest.ca/
Food Mesh https://foodmesh.ca/
Food Donor Encouragement Act BC https://www.bclaws.gov.bc.ca/civix/document/id/complete/statreg/00_97008_01
Reducing Food Waste
Food Waste in the Home https://lovefoodhatewaste.ca/about/food-waste/
Food Waste Resources https://wrwcanada.com/en/get-involved/resources/theme-day-resources/food-waste-resources
Government of BC: Food & Organic Waste https://www2.gov.bc.ca/gov/content/environment/waste-management/food-and-organic-waste
The Avoidable Crisis of Food Waste – Second Harvest Food Rescue https://secondharvest.ca/research/the-avoidable-crisis-of-food-waste/