High River food rescue keeps food from being tossed and supports those in need

A volunteer-run organization is keeping hundreds of thousands of pounds of food in High River from heading straight to the garbage.

It’s called High River Food Rescue. Sarah Bruinsma created the concept after seeing a real need to feed families and keep groceries out of landfills.

“We have some people food insecure and need to access and others simply because they don’t want to see good food going to waste,” Bruinsma said.

Food from restaurants and area grocery stores that would normally be thrown in the garbage are now destined for a unique ‘market.’

Market users can get a bag full of their groceries of choice for free. Their financial situation is never questioned.

“We do want everyone to feel welcome. There’s no identifying information,” Bruinsma said.

Since it opened in October 2018, close to 80,000 pounds of food has gone to 5,000 people.

“Those are unbelievable numbers,” Bruinsma said.

“It never ceases to amaze me how much good food would go to waste.”

Mother-of-two Jessica Sehn said with the rising cost of groceries, she’s grateful she has access to the market.

“My husband works five days a week and I run a day home and clean houses on the side and I also went back to work as health care aide, so it’s not like we don’t work. But there’s money that has to go elsewhere with bills and mortgage payments,” Sehn said.

“It’s helped out tremendously.”

Sobeys in High River partnered with the organization to supply the majority of their stock. They give fresh produce, dairy and bakery items on the verge of their best before date — food that is still perfectly safe to consume. Owner Jason McCauley said it was a no-brainer.

“Otherwise it would be going to the landfill, it’s a total waste,” McCauley said. “It’s part of our business because we have to have fresh food, it’s what people expect and the food is still good and they’re filling a huge void.”

The market is open every Tuesday and Thursday from noon to 1:30 p.m. They are hoping to expand the concept to other rural towns in the province.

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