June 24th, 2024

Food rescue group desperate for distribution funding

By Ry Clarke - Lethbridge Herald Local Journalism Initiative Reporter on December 20, 2022.

Herald file photo Members of the Calgary Family Peer Connections distribute boxes of food last December in Lethbridge.

A non-profit food rescue based in Fort Macleod is asking for help from the community as it struggles to keep its doors open into the new year.

Alberta Food Rescue and Distribution, formerly known as Calgary Family Peer Connections, rescues and distributes food focused on large quantity supports with communities, agencies, and organizations to provide food resources that would otherwise end up in landfills.

Currently the group is facing issues with funding in order to stay open, saying they have 400 palettes of food with no way to transport it to communities in need.

“I have this food sitting in my warehouse and I don’t have rent for January. If I don’t have rent for January, then it all has to go to the dump,” said Jaquie Duhacek, founder and director of the food rescue. “I would work if the government said today, we are putting the money into it. I’ll say absolutely. My team and I will work 24 hours a day. We have people everywhere that need distribution. We have food banks that have asked us for food but they can’t deliver and we can’t pay for transportation.”

Food rescue is where edible food that would end up going to waste is re-distributed to food programs. The recovered food is edible, but not sellable. Produce can be discarded because of unwanted shapes or colours. In many cases, products that have reached a “best before” or “sell by” date may still be usable, but end up as waste due to various reasons.

“Food Rescue works with factories, large agencies, or businesses to keep food out of the landfill that is still human consumable,” said Duhacek. “The Government of Alberta has legislation for food like this and for donating. But with Alberta Health we keep certain dates, we don’t go anything older than six months, that is my rule.”

Since its founding the food rescue has grown to be one of Alberta’s largest rural distributors.

“I have been able to build this program to 10 million pounds (of rescued food),” said Duhacek. “It is like the government is not seeing the emergency of what we are doing. The government is saying they are putting money into food, but they are not. Why would they leave us out? Food rescue that has kept 10 million pounds out of landfills in two years. And they’ll let us go under. I want to know how they feel they can ignore us. What are they going to do when I have to start throwing it all away?”

Currently Duhacek is asking people to write to their MLAs in southern Alberta to support the program, found on the group’s Facebook page at facebook.com/calgaryfpc.

“The majority of the money we see comes from Hutterite colonies who see the value in what we are doing. We have gotten some grants, but like every agency we are all fighting for them. We have applied for every single grant that the Alberta Government has put out over the last two years. We received an operating grant back in 2021 and that only lasted us three months,” said Duhacek.

Hoping to get the funding to keep the doors open, the non-profit is looking to circulate word of its struggle and stay afloat to help those in need.

“Go to our Facebook page and put your name in there,” said Duhacek. “We need the funding to keep our program open. The government is not seeing the emergency of what we are doing.”

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