“We’re gleaners. We’ll take what we can get, and work towards the food waste pyramid.” – Daniel McIntyre.
The Interfaith Food Bank (IFB) which is situated just north of the train tracks is an impressive organization whose main goal is ensuring its community has food on the table every day. But when you dig deeper into this impressive organization, you’ll find they also play important roles in many social services while having a positive environmental impact.
The IFB serves 1500 members per month, more than half of which are children. While we’re all familiar with the jest of how food banks work, i.e. donating cans of soup or unopened Kraft Dinner, the IFB is doing more for food waste then just accepting donations.
To start, the IFB is registered with the Food Bank Network which partners with big-box retailers. Retailers like Walmart, Sobeys, and Safeway will connect with the Food Bank Network and have them retrieve food items that don’t meet their standards; items that are mislabelled, dented, or close to expiry but still good. Foodbanks then request items which are delivered to the warehouse, organization are given the food free of charge and only have the delivery fee to cover. The IFB acts as the Southern Alberta Food Hub so smaller local foodbanks such as Taber or Fort Macleod have easier access to this service.
Once the food makes its way into the warehouse at the foodbank it is sorted by volunteers. Flats of eggs separated in dozens, sacks of oats measured into smaller portions, flats of pasta sauce are piled together and items that are set to expire quickly are sent to other organizations like the soup kitchen – who will usually use the food within a week.
A lot is going on behind the scenes. What many don’t know is that the IFB is equipped with several cold storage units that store meat protein, fresh produce, and dairy. So if you’ve grown too many carrots in your gardens, donating to the foodbank is a worthy alternative to letting them wilt in your fridge.
The IFB favourite day of the week? The days right after the farmer’s market. When vendors have sold what they can they drop the rest of the fresh fruits, veggies and baking off at the food bank. Farmers in Southern Alberta are strong partners of the Interfaith Foodbank. Previously donating cows for Project Protein, supplying produce, and in return, the IFB donates unclaimed or inedible bread to their livestock to continue working within the food pyramid.
The Interfaith Foodbank has many plans for the future of their organization that bring together the importance of social services but also tackle environmental issues. For now, they are proud of the amount of food they are diverting from the landfill alongside their partners, both corporate and residential, and ensuring our community isn’t going to bed hungry.
Written by Hannah Lee.