Following the closure of their sole commercial produce donor — Safeway — the Comox Valley Food Bank has secured additional grocery stores donating fresh food to the organization.
Jeff Hampton, president of the organization, said as a result of the publicity surrounding Safeway’s closing, he was able to approach other grocery stores in the Valley for donations of fruit and vegetables, and many have come on board.
“(We’ve been receiving produce from) Courtenay Quality Foods, and Comox Quality Foods came on board last Sunday. We are also getting some from Thrifty’s too,” he explained.
In February with news of the grocery store’s closing, the food bank raised concerns about the drop in donations of fresh produce.
At the time, the Safeway store was the only one in the Valley which gave produce seven days a week.
Hampton said initially some stores were hesitant in donating fresh food because of produce which might run the risk of being old or mouldy, but added any donor is covered for liability by the provincial Food Donor Encouragement Act.
While he is happy for the support, Hampton said there is a downside to the additional donations.
“What we’re finding is that it creates a double-edged sword. The more food we’re giving out to people, the more people show up for food. Sometimes, we’re running out of food by 10:30, 11 a.m.”
Hampton said the number of donors and clients of the food bank stay the same or drop slightly in the summer months, with summer plans taking people away from the area.
He encourages those planting gardens to plant an extra row for donation to the food bank.