For the third year in a row, the Salvation Army food bank has gotten a boost from Constellation Brands, which operates a number of wineries in the South Okanagan.
As part of their “Nourishing Neighbours” program, the company plants the perimeter of vineyards in vegetables and produce, which is then distributed to local food banks.
Barb Stewart, program co-ordinator with the Salvation Army, says the contribution is “absolutely huge.” She knows what kind of effort it is, after the food bank created their own garden.
“We planted a community garden ourselves and put a lot of effort into that, engaging volunteers,” said Stewart. “With Constellation Brands, they plant, they water, they harvest and they deliver to us … bring it right to our door in big bins of produce.
“They even ask us what we would like them to plant, it’s just fabulous.”
Stewart said this kind of contribution to food security is a fairly new idea across Canada, noting that vineyards are occupying a significant portion of arable land.
“The whole idea of them becoming engaged in some way in the food security initiative, that is really great,” said Stewart. “It’s like a new sector that is able to help out with people living in poverty and living with food insecurity.
“We are just thrilled that the vineyard people thought of a way themselves of supporting the food banks.”
B.C. Tree Fruits is also playing a big part in supporting the food bank.
“They are gifting us free cold storage, so we can distribute this nutritious stuff to the people that need it throughout the winter months,” said Stewart. “That is boosting their nutrition in the winter when it is most important.”
Stewart said food banks are turning to fresh foods more and more.
“Fresh, nutritious food. It is all about long-term health outcomes,” said Stewart. She explains that non-perishables, canned food and the like, don’t provide a rounded diet for people relying on the food bank long term.
“It’s a growing awareness, all across Canada, of the long-term outcomes for people living in poverty and the need for fresh, local, the most nutrition possible.”