FoodMesh is a food recovery program that partners with grocery stores across Western Canada to eliminate the loss of food that is taken to the garbage. The stores monitor product that needs to be used quickly and makes it available for pickup. Loaves and Fishes sponsored by Kindersley Christian Fellowship is an organization that provides frozen soup and bread to those in need. They were approached by FoodMesh to be the contact to work with Buy-Low Foods and recover food that would normally be thrown out. In July the program was set up with Kindersley Food Bank working alongside Loaves and Fishes. Four days a week, Loaves and Fishes/FoodMesh teams, pick up groceries in the afternoon, sort and prepare them for people to pick them up in the evening. It varies from day what is picked up-always lots of bread, yogurt and produce. FoodMesh groceries are available at Kindersley Christian Fellowship 800-12 Avenue E at 7:00 pm Monday, Wednesday and Thursday.
"We invite people to come in, register and shop as a family or single and take advantage of what has been provided. There is always a vast array of groceries. Our volunteers are there to help the with childcare, carrying groceries or just to be a friendly face. On Tuesday the Food Bank picks up groceries which helps greatly to build up their supplies to serve our community as well," Barbe Dunn of Loaves and Fishes said.
"Since the program started in July, we have served well over 200 people from Kindersley and surrounding communities. FoodMesh calculated that over 10,000 lbs. and 17,000 meals were recovered and given out. That is truly amazing to think that would have landed in the garbage otherwise," Dunn added.
Dunn then talked about how Loaves and Fishes got started.
“About two and a half years ago we started. And last year we did Christmas dinners for the first time. We served; I think it was close to 70 dinners went out. So, this has just escalated into a grand opportunity to serve people and to help them. We're really glad, but we want to get it out to more people that are in need. Not everybody has access to the Internet, but they do have a radio.”
Dunn then gave a background of how Loaves and Fishes works.
“We make it at the church (Kindersley Christian Fellowship). There we have a commercial kitchen and so it is made right there. And then there's a store that donates bread. So, we have bread that goes with it. But then last Christmas we decided to do Christmas dinners. People could call us and we would just go get it for them and either take it to them or have them come pick it up. There is no set time, but now with Food Mesh, we have set times in the evening. That's what we want people to know about.”
Dunn then explained how the pickup works at Buy-Low every Monday, Wednesday and Thursday afternoons.
“Everybody from the different departments will bring their boxes and stuff that they have set aside for us to the back, and we'll just load them up off the loading dock at the back of Buy-Low. And it varies from day to day. One day it can be 60 kilos of bread, it can be 150 kilos of dairy, it really diversifies. There lots of produce. That’s where people that on the fixed income they don't get fruit, they do not get fresh vegetables, they rarely get meat. I had one lady asked me she said I haven't had meat for three months. These are just normal people that live in this community. I have one girl that I've known since she was a young person, she came and I said why are you shaking? And she said I haven’t eaten for three days and she didn't have any food. This is a real deal in town and we have a lady that works in town here and she takes things to people in Rosetown too. So, it's really expanded and people from Alsask area, out near Smiley. It's kind of a three quarter an hour radius from Kindersley that we're serving.”
When asked about what they do with the food after it was picked up, Dunn explained what happens to it, and how they prepare it to be picked up.
“We pick up the stuff, it gets all weighed and measured, we have an app that the information goes right to Food Mesh and then take it back to church then go through it, sort it. If there needs to be any cleaning or sorting that's done, and then at 6:30 or quarter after six the evening team comes and they send it out on the counter in the kitchen. We have a huge kitchen, we kind of try to set up so it looks like a store so it looks really nice and everything is set out. Then people come at 7:00, they register at the door and we allow just groups of two or three people in at a time and they bring boxes and we do have lots of boxes usually. Then we just invite them to walk through and we'll help them carry them. Sometimes it's a matter of looking after kids so they can shop. Our meat can be a limited item because they don't have a lot of meat that goes out the back end, but we always try to regulate so that there is an equitable amount. We want to say ‘let's share to be fair’ so that somebody doesn't come in and just gouge and take a whole bunch.”
Dunn then ended our conversation by thanking all who helped out and continues to help out with the Food Mesh and Loaves and Fishes programs.
“I think one of the things that we would want to say is an absolutely amazing thank you to all the people that have contributed in any way. We had one local store who donated a deep freeze. We had a family donate so we could buy another deep freeze. We have a family that donate beef and pork on a regular basis and these are people under the radar. No, they don't want to be known who they are. And there is a lot of really crazy, wonderful people here that are supporting that and I want them to know that we appreciate that, it doesn't go unnoticed. We couldn't do it without them, there's just no other way we can't do it without these people.”
To find out how to help out, donate or if you are in need of some food in these troubling times, you can call the Kindersley Christian Fellowship at 306-463-6146 or Barbe at 306-460-9304.