The West Nipissing Food Bank is cutting back their operations to two days a month, after supply issues made it unfeasible to continue their food rescue program.
Food rescue was started back in March 2019: the program had local businesses donate products that were close to their sell-by date, so that those items could be used rather than disposed of. That additional supply meant the bank could be open for four days a month and over the last two years, no business contributed more food to the program than Paul & Nancy’s No Frills.
About two months ago, Loblaws Companies expanded the rollout of their new Flashfood app – which offers shoppers discounts on near-expiry goods in the name of waste reduction – and the Sturgeon Falls location was one of the stores to get the new tech. The early sign is that the app is achieving its goal, because food bank volunteers were regularly finding the food rescue bin empty when they visited.
“It’s just been dwindling and dwindling and you can’t support a food rescue program when you’re not getting any food rescued,” says Don Clendenning. “When they told us about (the app) and things started dropping off, we started buying what we needed and it’s very expensive obviously. We’ve kept it up for about three or four weeks now, so this is why we’re dropping the program back to two days a month.”
Clendenning expressed no ill will and says he’s thankful for all that No Frills did for the program over the last two years. He also says he had leads on other donors and sources for food rescue, but for the time being, they can’t sustain being open every Wednesday each month.
“If we end up with some food to be rescued, then by all means, we’ll do more days. But in the meantime, I don’t want to be changing (the schedule) every six months,” he states. “So, we’re going to go for the foreseeable little while and see how other programs work out. But we’re not going to drop quality or quantity; that’s one thing we’re able to do because of the donations from the community. We just won’t do it every Wednesday; we’ll be doing it every second one.”
Clendenning notes that, thanks to the generosity of the people of West Nipissing, the food bank has been able to stay open throughout the ongoing pandemic, where other community food banks have struggled.
The next food bank day will be July 21 from 9 a.m. until noon. Days will be on the first and third Wednesday of every month following that.