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New location launched for Banff Food Rescue

BANFF – The Banff Food Rescue has found a new home to help it redistribute food in the community. It started in Alanna Pettigrew’s kitchen, as a way to get involved in the community and support sustainability by “rescuing food.
Banff Food Rescue
Visitors collect food from Banff Food Rescue’s new location at Sundance Mall in Banff on Monday (June 3).

BANFF – The Banff Food Rescue has found a new home to help it redistribute food in the community.

It started in Alanna Pettigrew’s kitchen, as a way to get involved in the community and support sustainability by “rescuing food.” 

Now it will prevent even more perfectly edible items from being trucked to landfills by providing residents with access to a larger food rescue space in the basement of the Sundance Mall.  

“I’m happy we changed the location,” Pettigrew said.

“Now we can save more food and distribute it throughout the community.”

Made possible through Banff’s Zero Waste Initiative after receiving approval for $20,000 per year for the next three years from the municipality, the Banff Food Rescue moved from Pettigrew’s home on Spray Avenue to its new permanent location at 215 Banff Ave. four weeks ago. It served 70 individuals the first night in the new space.

“From a social well-being standpoint, diverting edible food to people who need it improves the health and overall wellbeing of Banff residents,” Carla Bitz, the Town of Banff’s environmental coordinator for resource recovery, said during a December council meeting.

“From an environmental standpoint, great quantities of resources go into growing and preparing food; it is most environmentally efficient to use this food to feed people, when the food is still edible.”

Banff Food Rescue started in 2016 after Pettigrew, who worked in the grocery industry for 20 years, realized how much perishable food was being thrown out.

“[Best before dates] are so arbitrary,” Pettigrew said.

“Food doesn’t instantly turn bad at the stroke of midnight on a particular date, but we’ve just put dates on things and it is culturally accepted … food was created to be consumed, not to be thrown out.”

Different from the focus of the local Food Bank, the food rescue accepts individuals from all backgrounds with the main focus on environmental sustainability.

READ MORE ON THIS STORY: Banff Food Rescue wants to expand

“People think we are feeding people that are desperate, or low income, but first and foremost, we are an environmental solution for food that would otherwise go in the garbage,” Pettigrew said.

“There are people that come that do have specific needs, or are in economic struggle, but there are lots of people that come in that are just like you and I.”

The food rescue was also a way to build community, as Pettigrew explained she spends the majority of her time caring for her sister.

“It was like a strike of lightening – it was just something I had to do,” Pettigrew said, noting it also helped her dispel the “entitled” and “lazy” myths about “young people” as she built her community and watched volunteers, of all ages, flock to help Banff Food Rescue.

“I’ve met amazing young people, got names in our phone and they show up and they are there and it’s great to have that … it helped me be connected with my community and I think the service is completely needed.”

From collecting perishable food in her kitchen, to serving more than 7,600 people between July 2017 to June 2018, the initiative has grown to redistributing more than 32 tonnes of edible food each year, with more than 1,000 volunteers.

Pettigrew was honoured last year as a YWCA Banff Change Maker for her food rescue initiative and she received the 2017 Stars of Alberta Volunteer Award.

“People should be informed what’s in your community and what you can do to help – there are always volunteer opportunities and people have found housing, people have found jobs and friends. I have even seen people meet other people and the next thing you know they are boyfriend and girlfriend,” Pettigrew said with a laugh.

“It’s an unconventional way to bring people together and it is a unique way to meet.

“It kind of cements what people want to do and how to make a contribution in society.”

The new Banff Food Rescue is located in the lower level of the Sundance Mall in Banff and runs from 6 p.m. to 7 p.m. on Mondays, Wednesdays and Fridays. For more information, go to the Banff Food Rescue Facebook page.

– With files from Cathy Ellis and Alana MacLeod

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