Patrons of the Penticton Salvation Army food bank can now enjoy the freedom of choice in a grocery store setting.
The food bank has made some significant upgrades after receiving an $87,000 boost from Food Banks BC, funded through the provincial government.
One exciting addition for the food bank is a commercial size refrigerator stocked with dairy, fresh produce and deli products – items the food bank couldn’t offer before.
Laid out like a grocery store, patrons can grab a shopping cart and move up and down the aisles, picking and choosing what they need.
“Before, we made up the hampers in the back and brought them out, so they didn’t have a choice on what they received,” said family services supervisor John Rankin. “The feedback so far is that lots of stuff we packed, they didn’t use – they gave it away, and some didn’t get used at all.”
The food bank purchased shelves to stock with a variety of non-perishable food items donated by the community and grocery stores, and the grant also helped volunteers better organize the warehouse in the back with shelves, stainless steel tables and storage containers, making for a more efficient system.
“We try to have stuff for special diets, gluten free, diabetics, stuff like that,” said Rankin. “This is much, much better, because they can actually choose what they need.”
With over 50 items to choose from in 38 rows, a family can select two items from 30 rows, a couple has the option of one item from 25 rows, and a single person may choose one item from 20 of the rows.
Shopping hosts join the patrons and help them through the process.
“We’re always looking for more volunteers, and of course now we need more,” said Rankin.
The food bank launched the new shopping model on June 5, with Rankin saying the feedback was very positive.
“It’s kind of neat seeing people choose what they want, what they need, and not what we think they need,” he said.
“Now they have all the choices.”
If you would like to volunteer or donate food, please visit the Salvation Army at 2399 South Main St., or call 250-492-4788.