Kitsilano Marketplace IGA owners John and Joanna Gendron donate food from their store to the Greater Vancouver Food Bank every Thursday
By: Martha Perkins - WE Vancouver
Every Thursday, a truck from the Greater Vancouver Food Bank pulls up to the loading dock at the Kitsilano Marketplace IGA. When it pulls away, it will be filled with food that will be distributed to dozens of community food kitchens.
By that night, some of it will be dinner for people who find it hard to make a paycheque stretch far enough to include a healthy meal. Some of the food has been donated by store owners John and Joanne Gendron.
Every day they go through the store looking for food products that are three days away from their best-before date.
They pull those items from the shelves and, depending on the time of the week, either freeze them or put them aside for the Thursday pick up.
As well, whenever a customer at the store purchases an IGA brand product with a loyalty card, a percentage of the sale is set aside.
The Gendrons let that build for a year and then give the money to the food bank which, in turn, buys custom-sized frozen hamburger packages from the IGA. Last year it amounted to $5,000 worth of fresh or frozen food and $7,600 for the purchase of hamburger.
“You should always be giving back,” says John Gendron, noting that they also support local churches’ and schools’ food programs with donations of bananas and yogurt. “You should be thankful that people are shopping at your store because they have the choice to go elsewhere.”
In the grand scheme of things — each week the GVFB helps feed 25,000 people — such donations might seem small but that’s not how the food bank views them. “It truly doesn’t take much to have a significant impact,” says Kay Thody, the food bank’s communications director.
The Gendrons are part of a network of 429 food businesses, including restaurants, Rogers Arena, and other grocery stores that take part in the Community Angels Food Runner program.
Last year, through everyone’s combined efforts, the program diverted 870,000 pounds of food which otherwise would be wasted. That food, which was distributed to 25 community kitchens provided 108,000 meals every month.
“From our perspective,” says the program’s manager Will Shields, “that’s anything but small.”
*photo credit: Rob Newell