The largest food bank on Vancouver Island plans to expand its focus from emergency food aid to long-term solutions in 2017.
Victoria’s Mustard Seed has rented a 13,500 square foot warehouse to start the Food Rescue Project.
Starting in January, the warehouse will receive, process and redistribute tons of perishable food donated by nine Thrifty Foods branches in the capital region.
“Our community has never had the capacity to handle the plethora of perishable items we have available for donations,” said Allan Lingwood, director of development at Mustard Seed, to On the Island host Gregor Craigie .
Lingwood said the new warehouse space will double the amount of food distributed by the grocery bank and more than 40 other local agencies on the Food Share Network.
The Mustard Seed and other community agencies will process and distribute food from a rented warehouse on Viewfield Road owned by the Capital Regional District. (CHEK news)
“We’re going to be giving out about $ 8 million worth of food, and that’s going to be fresh perishable food: fruits, vegetables, dairy products,” Lingwood said.
The warehouse on Viewfield Road. in Esquimalt, BC, which Mustard Seed rents for the Food Rescue Project, is owned by the Capital Regional District.
Storage discarded as sludge treatment plant
It was bought by the CRD for a sewage sludge treatment plant, but this use was rejected by the municipality in 2013.
In addition to the new warehouse, Mustard Seed is launching its own coffee line in January with the support of another local company, Oughtred Coffee & Tea.
Java beans roasted by recreational residents at The Mustard Seed’s Hope Farm near Duncan, BC, are on the shelves of 10 Thrifty Foods stores under the label “The Mustard Seed Coffee Co.” sold.
The grocery store opening in January will allow The Mustard Seed and about 40 other community organizations to process and distribute more produce and other fresh groceries to those in need. (CBC)
Lingwood hopes the company will help the organization reduce its reliance on community donations to support its business.
The Mustard Seed currently distributes about 2,200 baskets of groceries each month from its current Queens Avenue office and small warehouse that help feed about 5,000 people.
According to Lingwood, an estimated 50,000 people in the capital area are food insecure, which means they cannot afford to feed themselves and their families properly.
For more stories from Victoria and around Vancouver Island, visit CBC Victoria.