The Helping Hands Society Cochrane has successfully rescued over $1,000,000 worth of food from local businesses to feed community members in need.

“It's actually officially 1.186 million which is incredible,” says Helping Hands Food Programs manager, April Baird.

“It took us exactly two years. We took on our first rescue in the summer of 2021 from Starbucks and it's pretty celebratory.”

Helping Hands has two Free Food Sheds in Cochrane where volunteers make daily drops of rescued food to assist Cochranites in need.

In two short years, the food rescue program has grown to also include two grocery stores in Cochrane, Save-on-Foods and Safeway.

“The Food Sheds operate with 226 volunteer shifts per month. That's everywhere from maintenance to caretaking to cleaning to the food rescue shifts.”

“We need a volunteer army to run these sheds.”

Baird says not only does their food rescue program divert from the landfills, but it has become a necessary service for Cochrane.

“What we're rescuing typically from the grocery stores is anything that is at its best before date or close to, too close for them to deem it safe for resale but still fit for human consumption. Our agreement with them is we'll take everything whether it's garbage or not and we'll decide from there.”

“Typically, I would say 90 per cent of it is not garbage. It's still fit for human consumption and it's turning over so quickly at the Free Food Sheds that it doesn't matter if the best-before date is tomorrow because it's leaving the shed in an hour anyway and somebody is using that today.”

Helping Hands is hoping to get more local businesses on board to continue to grow their food security programs. 

“I'd like to get the other couple of grocery stores on board and once we've got them, then we definitely have a need for more sheds.”

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