Harvest Food Bank’s Zero Waste program. (Travis Winterwed file photo)

Harvest Food Bank’s Zero Waste program. (Travis Winterwed file photo)

Zero waste program continues to drastically help the North Island

The zero waste program means that Save-On Foods no longer throws anything out.

WRITTEN BY TRAVIS WINTERWED

The space shuttle Endeavor, with a fully-loaded cargo bay, still weighs less than the amount of food that Harvest Food Bank and Save-On Foods have saved from going to the landfill in 2020. Thanks to their zero waste program, more than 260,000 pounds of food has been reclaimed, with most of that food going to feed our North Islanders.

The zero waste program means that Save-On Foods no longer throws anything out but instead places it into totes that are picked up by Harvest volunteers who then sort the food from the waste.

Andy Cornell, volunteer manager of Harvest Food Bank, estimates that 75 per cent of the recovered food is fit for human consumption, meaning that 195,000 extra pounds of food was distributed to North Island residents in 2020. “The rest goes to animal feed or compost,” says Cornell, “There’s an awful lot of greenhouse gases that are not being generated in a landfill now because this stuff is being utilized in a much more useful manner than letting it rot in a landfill site.”

The extra food means that Harvest has been able to expand their contributions to partners like the Salvation Army as well as to their food box program. It also meant they could expand a new program called Fresh Eats.

“Fresh Eats is a program where we provide food at our front counter in our store, 6 days a week from 10 am – 4 pm. There’s fresh bread, fresh produce, meat, fish, dairy, pretty much everything other than dry goods,” says Cornell. Anybody can drop in and pick up some fresh food. “We provide food to about 40 households every single day, and that’s excluding our monthly grocery program.”

“That would not have been possible without Save-On Foods.”

He adds that Fresh Eats also has “a lot of ready-to-eat stuff, things like sandwiches and so on, for all the folks who don’t have access to cooking facilities.”

Cornell considers the zero waste program to be a boon for the North Island. “It’s good for them, it’s good for us, it’s good for the planet, it’s fantastic for our clients.”

Because the totes have to be picked up and sorted 364 days a year, more volunteers have been needed. Cornell notes that “it’s work that we’re very happy to do but it’s not without a lot of effort. However, as the work load has gone up so has the number of people kicking in to make it happen.”

One such volunteer is Mark Stacey who says that he’s motivated to volunteer at Harvest because “it’s a kind of therapy for me and it’s exercise and it helps out Harvest’s bottom line.”

“I love it. Keep coming back all the time. It really makes me feel useful. I’m old and I don’t know what I’d do without it, especially with the senior’s centre closed for COVID,” says Bob Langsdon, still volunteering at 79. He says he started volunteering to help out manager Andy Cornell. “I met Andy and he’s about the best guy you could have running a place like this. He’s got long days, busy days and I just help to take the heat off him.”

Gord Patterson, another volunteer, echoed his appreciation for Harvest, calling the food bank “a hidden treasure of North Vancouver Island,” and that he has “nothing but admiration and respect for the volunteers.”

Cornell is certainly appreciative of his volunteers. “Without them, this place would close. My hat is off to every single one of them that make it happen.”

If you would like to volunteer your time at Harvest Food Bank, please contact Andy Cornell by phone at 250-902-0332.


Have a story tip? Email: editor@northislandgazette.com
Like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter.

EnvironmentFood

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

An Island Health nurse prepares a dose of COVID-19 vaccine. (Photo courtesy Island Health)
Health authority opening 19 clinics to immunize Vancouver Island residents

Health authority anticipates more than 40,000 people will be immunized over the next month

Debra Lynn photo
Mysterious smoke cloud seen in Seavac Centre

Fire crews did a thorough sweep of the centre.

North Island Gazette file photo of Port McNeill council.
Heated conversation occurs at Port McNeill council over policy request

Port McNeill mayor Gaby Wickstrom wants to see a change in the… Continue reading

The Port Alice pulp mill has been dormant since 2015. (North Island Gazette file photo)
The Port Alice pulp mill site is being ‘recycled’

Bankruptcy company is overseeing de-risking the site, water treatment and environmental monitoring.

Port Hardy Senior Citizens’ Society president Rosaline Glynn holds up the certificate from B.C. Premier John Horgan next to Loaves & Fishes director Peter Sinclair, vice president Kris Huddlestan, and Port Hardy mayor Dennis Dugas. (Submitted photo)
Port Hardy council to nominate Glynn for the Order of British Columbia

Glynn’s nomination was endorsed unanimously by council.

Elvira D’Angelo, 92, waits to receive her COVID-19 vaccination shot at a clinic in Montreal, Sunday, March 7, 2021, as the COVID-19 pandemic continues in Canada and around the world. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Graham Hughes
‘It’s been a good week’: Tam hopeful on vaccines as pandemic anniversary nears

Tam says the addition of two new vaccines will help Canadians get immunized faster

Const. Allan Young. Photo: Abbotsford Police Department
Manslaughter charge laid in Nelson death of Abbotsford police officer

Allan Young died after an incident in downtown Nelson last summer

(The Canadian Press)
‘Worse than Sept. 11, SARS and financial crisis combined’: Tourism industry in crisis

Travel services saw the biggest drop in active businesses with 31 per cent fewer firms operating

Pictures and notes in from friends and classmates make up a memorial in support and memory of Aubrey Berry, 4, and her sister Chloe, 6, during a vigil held at Willows Beach in Oak Bay, B.C., on December 30, 2017. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Chad Hipolito
Mother of slain daughters supports recent changes to Canada’s Divorce Act

Sarah Cotton-Elliott said she believed her children took a back seat to arranging equal parenting

Victoria man Brett Andersen is asking for people’s help to secure him one of eight free tickets to the moon. (Screenshot/@brettandersen Instagram)
Victoria man wants your help securing a free ticket to the moon

Japanese billionaire offering eight people a trip to the moon

The Conservation Officers Service is warning aquarium users after invasive and potentially destructive mussels were found in moss balls from a pet store. (BC Conservation Officers Service/Facebook)
Aquarium users in B.C. warned after invasive mussels found at pet store

Conservation officers were told the mussels were found in a moss ball from a Terrace pet store.

Hockey hall-of-fame legend Wayne Gretzky, right, watches the casket of his father, Walter Gretzky, as it is carried from the church during a funeral service in Brantford, Ont., Saturday, March 6, 2021. HE CANADIAN PRESS/Nathan Denette
Walter Gretzky remembered as a man with a ‘heart of gold’ at funeral

The famous hockey father died Thursday at age 82 after battling Parkinson’s disease

Donald Alan Sweet was once an all star CFL kicker who played for the Montreal Alouettes and Montreal Concordes over a 13-year career. Photo courtesy of Mission RCMP.
Ex-B.C. teacher who was CFL kicker charged with assault, sexual crimes against former students

Donald Sweet taught in Mission School District for 10 years, investigators seek further witnesses

Most Read