Through local grocery stores and the Victoria Foundation, Greater Victoria residents have helped support the Island Food Caring campaign with a donation of $32,112 to help feed the region.
Five grocery store operators – Country Grocer, Fairway Market, Red Barn Market, The Root Cellar and Thrifty Foods – took part in the campaign which started on Feb. 27 and ran until March 22. Despite the COVID-19 pandemic changing the landscape during that time, residents were able to support Island Food Caring regardless.
Money from the campaign will go towards the Food Rescue Project, an initiative from the Mustard Seed Street Church and the Food Share Network that recovers and redistributes healthy, fresh food to food insecure communities in the region.
Red Barn Markets owner and operator Russ Benwell said the store’s team is “proud to be part of a network that ensures all members of our community have access to healthy food. Particularly during the uncertain times we are currently living in.”
Residents donated to the campaign at the point of purchase or through the program’s website. Funds went to the Victoria Foundation to be distributed to the Mustard Seed and Food Share Network partner organizations participating in the Food Rescue Project. Donations are still being collected at islandfoodcaring.ca.
“We are in uncharted territory in the grocery business, but have been uplifted by our customers’ amplified commitment to community during this difficult time for everyone,” said The Root Cellar co-owner Daisy Orser.
Orser said the response from customers has been heartwarming as The Root Cellar has asked them to reflect on their own experiences while navigating these unique times.
Victoria Foundation chief official Sandra Richardson said the money raised will allow for the purchase of things like meat and dairy, which are not readily available at this time and are bought out by customers before reaching the point where stores can donate them.
Food Share Network coordinator Sonja Yli-Kahila said thousands of food insecure individuals, children and families are supported by the network each year and that the network is grateful for the grocers in the community for getting behind the program.
“We need to come together as a community to maintain this program, and by creating this campaign, the grocers are playing an important role in raising awareness of and funds for food rescue in the Capital Region,” Yli-Kahila said.