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Sources Food Hub – Wasting no bites

Newton BIA | As seen in the Surrey Now-Leader, February 26, 2020
By Marla Poirier

Imagine a community where seniors and youth partner together, cooking, laughing, and learning from each other. Where women and children feel safe and form community connections. Community gardens flourish, and local farmers have the help they need at harvest-time, without any food going to waste. Where youth aging-out from foster care find the support they need to build a productive and happy future for themselves — a future that has hope. Where a mom-and-pop operation can begin in its infancy ­ — in­ a commissary kitchen and over time — grow into a thriving business.

The people at Sources have that vision and have been working hard to bring it to life for over 40 years.

Since Sources (an internationally-accredited, community based, not-for-profit society) has been in existence, they’ve excelled at making a difference in communities throughout the Lower Mainland and Northern BC — changing the lives of over 40,000 people. They have identified specific areas where the agency can support children, youth, families, persons with disabilities, seniors, LGBTQ2S+ individuals, and others who are coping with isolation, addiction, mental illness, poverty, disability, and conflict. They partner with other agencies and move forward in positive ways to impact lives.

They operate two food banks (Langley and South Surrey); offer women’s services in a dedicated space, which offers professional trauma counselling, food programs and youth services, and much more.

Fighting food waste and feeding the vulnerable has become a new initiative for the non-profit.

“Did you know that 11.2 million metric tonnes of edible food are wasted every year in Canada alone? Households, grocery stores, food service businesses, distributors, and farmers each have a role to play in this problem. For example, 47% of the food waste that is happening takes place at home.”

“It’s almost impossible to imagine what 170,000 pounds of anything look like,” said Denise Darrell, Executive Director, Community Services, at Sources.

“But the truth is, that’s how much food is wasted, in the Surrey area alone, from the farm to fork system. That’s enough to feed half of Surrey’s population for the next year!”

Last spring, they began the Food Hub program. Funded by a grant from the Walmart Foundation, and inspired by the efforts of Seeds of Change Surrey, ( the Surrey/White Rock Food Action Coalition), they began to develop logistics, later launching a successful distribution and pickup of excess food from local retailers and farms for use at local food banks, soup kitchens and agencies, such as DiversCity, and Kekinow in Newton.

“During Phase One and over 5 months, our food recovery program redirected the equivalent of 1,838 meals!” they said.

The Food Hub Commissary kitchen, located in Newton, has a full Fraser Health Authority approved and is available for rent.

Many small food producers need to have access to a professional kitchen space, which helps them take their food products to the next level. It’s a perfect fit for Newton. We have many newcomers to our neighbourhood who want to be able to start their small food-based business enterprises; share their cultural heritage through food, but need the infrastructure to start. It’s ideal for chefs, bakers, caterers, online sellers, farmers’ market vendors, non-profits to share a beautiful space to cook, learn, and incubate their business. The commissary is available 7 days a week, 24 hours a day.

The second aspect of the Food Hub involves all home gardeners or small lot or local farmers. Do you need help with the harvest? Food Hub’s Community Harvest Program is a gleaning service that actively rescues food that might otherwise be wasted and distributes it to their partners locally.

The Sources Food Hub is now a place to learn about food waste and what you can do to reduce it, in your home, your business, and your community. They offer talks, workshops, and team building opportunities to schools, community partners, or any community groups.

Recently they’ve partnered with Dan’s Legacy, which focuses on youth aging out, job skills training, indigenous youth, women survivors of interpersonal violence, as well as new Canadians. With funding from the Food Security – Provincial Initiative Fund and the Victoria Foundation, they are envisioning a work-skills training program in a teaching kitchen that will offer three occupational models: Commercial Food Production, Warehousing, and Vehicle Operation. Recruitment, assessment, training, and placing of clients in these occupations are the primary goals, along with providing therapeutic counseling, life-skills instruction and secure housing to the participants, some of whom may be affected by Mental Health issues.

They are looking for a 10,000 sq. ft. warehouse space to make this very important vision become a reality.

To learn more about The Food Hub, renting the commissary, and other programs or resources available through Sources, or how you can help make a difference — email foodhub@sourcesbc.ca, or phone 604-596-0973 for an appointment.