New commercial expansion will create connection and resilience for Columbia Basin residents
By Chadd Cawson Local Journalism Initiative Reporter
Healthy Kimberley’s Food Recovery Depot (HKFRD) is serving the community in more ways than one. Creating connection and community with access to healthy food is what’s on the menu. For the past four years HKFRD has been operating out of a city-owned kitchen, but their endeavor is the development of their own on-site commercial kitchen which will increase the efficiency and volume of their meal production.
“We’ve been using an off-site, city-owned commercial kitchen, but we have outgrown the space, and the opportunity to have our own on-site kitchen is exciting,” said Shannon Duncan, food recovery coordinator. “With our own kitchen, all food and ingredients will be on-site and with less transportation needed, we can create efficiencies to work with more fresh ingredients and explore food literacy opportunities. The Depot is already such a ripe ground for people bringing together around food and being able to go one step further and offering regular workshops will be a great addition to our services.”
Located on the lower level of the Kimberley Health Centre, HKFRD has been going strong since it first opened in November 2018 and as of September, 2021 has recovered over 137,467 kilograms (kg) of whole foods that were otherwise destined for the landfill. All this food that is perfectly good to eat but not to re-sell is now redirected to community members giving them access to tons of healthy food (produce, dairy, grains and meat). HKFRD is open to the public every Friday from 12 to 1 pm
Contracted chefs have made over 22,000 servings of frozen meals from primarily recovered foods that would have otherwise gone to waste, since April 2020. Following food safety guidelines and after rigid sorting, food that has been recovered from local grocery retailers, farms, restaurants, and backyard gardens, is funneled into their free frozen meal program. This unique service has become crucial one for Kimberley residents that can not only be accessed on-site but that has also been distributed through its agency partners since 2018.
The Columbia Basin Trust provided funding to support this initiative of local food production and reduction of food waste, and the plan to install the on-site commercial kitchen in the Kimberley Health Center food recovery facility is underway. It will be an atmosphere not only to empower Columbia Basin residents, but also one for food literacy, education, and for the community to come together in a camaraderie and to share their skills.
“Since we have the bones of the original hospital kitchen, we just need to install equipment and do some updating, which I’m hoping will be completed within six months,” said Duncan. “We’ve experienced such fast growth, and it’s created a need for a subsidized program where people who can’t afford market prices can pay a graduate rate for meals. It will help fuel the program in a sustainable way so we can grow into the future.”
Healthy Kimberley thrives through their dedicated volunteers. Already averaging 300 volunteer hours per month, the new kitchen will provide more learning opportunities for volunteers interested in sharpening or sharing their culinary skills, or working alongside professional contracted cooks to create an accessible, subsidized fresh meal program. For those who want to become a volunteer email Duncan at [email protected] who says, “Our volunteers are the heart and soul of the entire operation.”
Chadd Cawson, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, The Columbia Valley Pioneer