British Columbia

Victoria food bank to double aid with new warehouse

The largest food bank on Vancouver Island is seeking to reduce its reliance on donations as it launches two new projects in the new year.

Food rescue, coffee roasting business launched

Mustard Seed director of development Allan Lingwood said the organization sees the new food warehouse and coffee-roasting business as ways to move beyond meeting emergency needs and towards increased food security. (CHEK News)

The largest food bank on Vancouver Island aims to broaden its focus from emergency food aid towards long-term solutions in 2017.

Victoria's Mustard Seed has rented a 13,500 square-foot warehouse to launch the Food Rescue Project.

Starting in January, the warehouse will receive, process and redistribute tonnes of perishable food donated by nine Thrifty Foods stores in the Capital Region.

"The capacity has never existed in our community before to deal with the abundance of perishable goods that we have available for donation," Mustard Seed Director of Development Allan Lingwood told On the Island host Gregor Craigie.

Lingwood said the new warehouse space will double the amount of food distributed by the food bank and more than 40 other local agencies in the Food Share Network.

The Mustard Seed and other community agencies will process and distributed food from a rented warehouse on Viewfield Road owned by the Capital Regional District. (CHEK News)

"We'll be distributing about $8 million worth of food and that's going to be fresh perishable foods: fruits, vegetables, dairy products," Lingwood said.

The warehouse on Viewfield Rd. in Esquimalt, B.C. that the Mustard Seed is renting for the Food Rescue Project is owned by the Capital Regional District.

Warehouse rejected as sludge treatment plant

It was purchased by the CRD for a sewage sludge treatment facility but that use was rejected by the community in 2013.

In addition to the new warehouse operation, the Mustard Seed is launching its own line of coffee in January with support from another local business, Oughtred Coffee & Tea.

Java beans roasted by residents in the recovery program at The Mustard Seed's Hope Farm near Duncan, B.C. will be sold on the shelves of 10 Thrifty Foods stores under the label "The Mustard Seed Coffee Co." 

The food warehouse opening in January will allow The Mustard Seed and about 40 other community agencies to process and distribute more produce and other fresh foods to people in need. (CBC)

Lingwood hopes the enterprise will help the organization reduce its reliance on community donations to support its operations.

The Mustard Seed currently distributes about 2,200 food hampers every month from their current Queens Avenue office and small warehouse, which helps to feed about 5,000 people.

Lingwood said an estimated 50,000 people in the Capital Region experience food insecurity, which means they can not afford to adequately feed themselves and their families.


For more stories from Victoria and around Vancouver Island go to CBC Victoria.