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Food security centre creates stronger food economy in Victoria

Healthy, fresh and sustainable food options are now on the table for more than 35,000 people facing food insecurity in the Greater Victoria area.

With support from the Province, the Mustard Seed has secured a permanent home for its Food Security Distribution Centre.

The Mustard Seed has purchased the centre at 102-808 Viewfield Rd. with the help of $2 million in provincial funding provided through the Victoria Foundation. The building is home to a growing system of food security programs, food literacy initiatives and other community social supports. It is also the central collection point for the Food Share Network, a collaboration of more than 50 organizations including non-profits, First Nations, school districts and other community agencies that operate food security programs in the area.

“Our goal as a government is to make lives better for people in our province and the best way to achieve this goal is to work together,” said Shane Simpson, Minister of Social Development and Poverty Reduction. “The collaboration and partnership of different organizations is filling gaps in affordability and opportunity so that people and their families can live healthier, fuller lives.”

More than 1,815 kilograms (4,000 pounds) of fresh food from grocery stores pass through the centre each day. This food is redistributed to Food Share Network partner programs across the region.

“When we waste food, we waste all of the additional resources it takes to get it to our tables,” said Lana Popham, Minister of Agriculture. “The partners in the Food Share Network have collaborated to create an innovative solution that keeps food on the plates of people who need it most. It’s about working together to tap into the large number of food resources in our region and create a sustainable food economy that works together to support everyone who lives here.”

The Mustard Seed and the Victoria Foundation have plans for the building and intend to explore new opportunities beyond the traditional food bank model. They will work with organizations and individuals through a community consultation process to determine the best way the distribution centre can continue to support food-insecure families and the local food economy.

“The Mustard Seed is a well-known food bank in the community, but we have big goals for the distribution centre that go beyond the traditional food bank model,” said Derek Pace, executive director, Mustard Seed Street Church. “We’re working closely with other organizations to make the distribution centre an integral part of a sweeping network of services that provide fresh, healthy produce to families and connect them with programs that support opportunities in food literacy, education, employment and more.”

The funding is part of a $3-million grant from the Province to support the Victoria Foundation’s new Food Security Provincial Initiatives Fund. The fund will expand food security programs and initiatives in communities throughout British Columbia. More details of the consultation process for the distribution of funds will be available in a short time.

“The Food Share Network is an innovative collaboration of organizations that work closely with their communities and understand where their programs fit in the larger picture of regional food security,” said Sandra Richardson, CEO, Victoria Foundation. “Local organizations know the unique needs of the people they support. Our Food Security Provincial Initiatives Fund will use the great work being done here in Victoria as a guide when we work with provincial and local organizations in other communities in B.C., to build on the work already being done throughout the province.”

The grant aligns with TogetherBC, the Province’s first poverty reduction strategy, which works across governments, non-profit organizations, businesses, First Nations leaders and Indigenous communities to reduce poverty in B.C.

Quotes:

Mitzi Dean, MLA for Esquimalt-Metchosin —

“I’m proud of the great work that is being done right here in Esquimalt. Now that the distribution centre is a permanent fixture in the community, I look forward to watching it support a growing network of services that put food on the plates of people who need it. This community and the partners in the Food Share Network clearly recognize the change that can happen when we all work together.”

Peggy Wilmot, food bank co-ordinator, The Food Bank at St. John’s and Greater Victoria Acting Together —

“Both the Food Security Distribution Centre and the Food Rescue Project are the result of ongoing collaboration among the many organizations delivering the services of the Food Share Network. Every bit as important are those supporting the work, like services clubs, grocery stores, farmers, funders and various levels of government. The great success of the Food Share Network shows the power of community coming together across sectors to make us better equipped to support our neighbours and tackle our common challenges of poverty and food insecurity.”

Matthew Kemshaw, executive director, LifeCycles Project Society and chair, Food Share Network —

“Food insecurity is a regional challenge that affects a broad range of people. More than 50 agencies are participating in the Food Share Network and are distributing fresh healthy food throughout the region, so the people that you are helping are your neighbours. We believe that by working together, as a community, we can ensure everyone has dignified access to healthy, delicious food.”

Steve Walker Duncan, program chair, culinary training, Camosun College —

“Now that the Food Security Distribution Centre is a permanent hub for food security in the community, Camosun College and the Mustard Seed are working together to create a culinary employment program that will support people with barriers to employment train and find work in the culinary field. The program will create opportunities for people looking for employment in a culinary industry that is constantly looking for new staff.”

Quick Facts:

  • The distribution centre has been leased by the Mustard Seed Street Church for the Food Rescue Project since 2017.
  • The goal of the centre is to provide additional regional infrastructure, such as food processing, cold and dry storage and social enterprise incubation, all for the local food economy.
  • Each year, the distribution centre distributes roughly 545,000 kilograms (1.2 million pounds) of food throughout Greater Victoria.
  • Over half a million British Columbians experience some level of household food insecurity.

Learn More:

TogetherBC, B.C.’s first poverty reduction strategy:
https://www2.gov.bc.ca/assets/gov/british-columbians-our-governments/initiatives-plans-strategies/poverty-reduction-strategy/togetherbc.pdf

The Victoria Foundation’s food security initiatives:
https://victoriafoundation.bc.ca/food-rescue-project/

The Mustard Seed Street Church’s Food Rescue Project:
http://mustardseed.ca/food-rescue/


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