I recently started volunteering a shift per week at the Calgary Food Bank. I have to say, I have a whole new appreciation and respect for the grocery industry after my initial experiences there.
On my very first shift, I was assigned to “fresh food sorting”. I was emptying box after box of products sent to the Food Bank from Walmart. My assignment was to check expiry dates, and if after “today”, then put the item into a crate which would go to hamper sorting. I was sifting through dairy items, many pounds of butter, some curious items I had never heard of before, juices in 2L cartons, and much more. My assumption from this is they have a way to identify products that aren’t moving, clear them from the shelves, put them into (reusable, branded, plastic) boxes in cold storage, and then ship to the Food Bank.
So, big shout out to Walmart Canada for this!
After we finished the pallet of goods from Walmart, we moved on to “frozen meat sorting”. Doug, Calgary Food Bank employee, dropped a pallet of crates in front of us, and we set up three final sorting areas. The first was for hamper-bound bagged packages of 1kg of frozen proteins, which were grouped and bagged by us. This could include any combination of soon-to-expire items pulled from the SuperStore shelves, such as “Free-From” meats, other packages labelled with “take me home for 30% off” stickers, seafood and other freshly-frozen items. There were also a lot of beef roasts, at about 1kg, which went directly in here. Wow! The next sorting area we had was “Deli” – anything with over 20% RDA sodium went directly in here. Lots of bacon and cold cuts, for the most part. The final sorting pallet we had was “Food Link”. Anything bigger than 1kg (approximately) went here for the bulk preparation and distribution arm of the Food Bank.
All of this fresh frozen meat (and seafood) came from SuperStore. I was more and more impressed with every package I sorted at how they have systems in place to pull food that is nearing it’s best-before date from the refrigerated shelves, and into their freezers en masse to make their way to the Food Bank. I am so very thankful to see that all of this food isn’t going into the dumpster behind the store, or being used to feed tigers! 😉
Today, again in “fresh food sorting”, I worked my way through many, many huge bags of onions to allocate them into produce bags of 5-6 onions each, heading for hampers. When the onions were all divided up, we moved on to pears, with box after box of perfect Bartlett pears going 6-to-a-bag, and heading for hampers. I don’t know who donated all the onions and pears, but there is an undeniable circle of benevolence here. I know the good karma will reach those who dropped these items off as well!
Another note about today… like last week (my first shift), physical distancing procedures were in place. When I arrived, I was given a care kit, including a (washable, reusable / home-sewn, donated) mask. Subway again donated subs (and cookies!!!) for the volunteers who were working. It’s all good. I felt not only safe, but well cared for!
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