From left: George White, Alyssa Wright, Les Anderson, Miriam Leslie and Randall Bamford are all smiles at the Penticton’s Salvation Army Food Bank’s daily pick-up of food donations at the Save On Foods. The Penticton grocer has partnered with the food bank for its zero waste initiative, donating fresh food items for the local hamper program. Jordyn Thomson/Western News

Penticton Save-On-Foods partners with food bank for zero waste

The local grocer is donating fresh food items for the Salvation Army’s Food Bank program

The Penticton Save-On-Foods has partnered with the Salvation Army Food Bank to implement its new zero waste initiative.

As of Nov. 5, the store has been donating fresh produce, meats, bakery items and other food to the food bank that would otherwise be destined for a landfill. The food that is still safe to consume is available to recipients of the food bank hampers and to residents who access the stocked fridge in the food bank’s lobby.

“Many of this food will go right into our fridge in the lobby, which can be accessed by anyone in need — they don’t have to register they can just help themselves,” said John Rankin, Penticton’s Salvation Army Food Bank manager. “We appreciate that now year-round we’ll have fresh produce and dairy and other things available to our clientele.”

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Rankin said they help multiple organizations such as Save On Foods distribute food to those in need. According to Randall Bamford, Penticton’s Save-On-Foods manager, the store donates at least a full pallet of food items daily.

“John and his team there have stepped up to take all of this food off our hands, and it makes us feel better when we know it’s not going to a landfill,” said Bamford.

Rankin said he and his team thoroughly inspect all the food they receive, to ensure it is still safe to serve. If any food is deemed not for human consumption, it is offered up to area farmers for any livestock or compost purposes.

“We try to throw nothing out if possible,” said Rankin.

“As a company, we’ve gone with this direction of food waste diversion. So our motto is feed people, not landfills,” said Bamford. “Our zero waste goal is to surplus potentially wasted food and organics as a strategy for our company as we move forward. Save-On is committed to actively targeting food waste across all of the corporations and reducing current waste by 50 per cent by 2025.”

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Bamford said while they have only been running this initiative for two weeks, they are already excited about the future possibilities this allows for the store. He noted they had an idea before of what the store was throwing away, but they were surprised to see their dumping costs drop significantly with this initiative.

“Just by what we’re doing with John, we’re way over our goal of reducing our waste by 50 per cent for this location,” said Bamford. “We’re doing things at store level now that we didn’t before — for example we don’t let perishable items sit out before it is donated, it stays in a cooler so it protects the recipient on the other end. So we’re changing a lot of our operations here to make it work for John and his team.

“Just the good feeling of knowing this stuff is not going into a landfill is great. It’s also prompted us to look at other things that we aren’t recycling here, so this has gotten us jazzed up. Like looking paper and packaging where we weren’t pursuing many recycling options before, we can ramp that up as well.”

Bamford noted that “the pressure to reduce waste in this city is not as apparent as it is in other cities” and he is thankful that they were able to partner with Penticton’s Salvation Army Food Bank to make this program possible.

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Jordyn Thomson | Reporter
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