Surrey and White Rock Food Action Coalition chairwoman Deirdre Goudriaan and coalition member Rick Ketcheson. (Aaron Hinks photo)

Surrey-based group maps places to find affordable food

Surrey and White Rock Food Coalition targets food security

The Surrey and White Rock Food Action Coalition may have an answer for residents looking to save a buck when making healthier food choices.

A couple of years of work has went into the coalition’s Community Food Resources map, which is programmed into the City of Surrey’s COSMOS online mapping system.

Coalition chairwoman Deirdre Goudriaan and coalition member Rick Ketcheson sat down with Peace Arch News Sunday to explain the resource, and how it can be utilized to benefit local families.

The map highlights more than 150 locations where residents can find food banks, community kitchens, places to buy low-cost food, community gardens, community supported agriculture projects and farms that operate “farm gate sales.”

Not only can the tool be used to find affordable food, but it can foster community interaction, Ketcheson said.

“It’s such a fundamental part of physical and social health. Sharing food at places like community kitchens brings people together. If you can bring people together with food, many of the things that separate us fall away,” Ketcheson said.

“Food is the currency,” Goudriaan added.

The map also highlights programs like Food Skills for Families.

“In that program, people come together and learn how to purchase food and then make recipes from it. At the end of it, they take the food home in take-away containers. The program runs for eight weeks and at the end of it people feel, generally, more skilled when it comes to food preparation,” Goudriaan said.

Ketcheson and Goudriaan said Canadians are some of the biggest food wasters in the world, which is a trend they would like to see changed.

Ketcheson said there are many reasons why so much food goes to waste.

“It happens at various different points along food production. Right from the food that’s left in the field because it’s not pretty enough to make it to the shelves. Food that’s grown on public and private property that people don’t use, it could be rescued from just going to waste. Food that gets rejected from the supermarket and all the way down to we have some individual responsibility for the food you discard from your refrigerator because you bought too much or didn’t get to it in time,” he said.

One program supported by the coalition to help families is the Starfish Pack program, Goudriaan noted.

The program, Goudriaan said, was started to help families stock their cupboards through the weekend. Students in the program receive a backpack at the end of the week that’s filled with food.

Although there’s an impression that South Surrey and White Rock are affluent areas, there are families in need, Goudriaan said.

“You’d be surprised,” she said. “Even though there’s an impression of affluence here, there certainly is hunger in this community and I think there’s a stigma about it because it’s an affluent community.”

It’s not just young families that struggle, Ketcheson added.

“Seniors who are living alone in isolation are at risk,” he said.

Ketcheson said preparing food and reducing waste takes effort.

“It takes a fair bit of attention if you want to not waste in your kitchen. I grew up on the Prairies and my parents lived through the Depression so it was ingrained in me not to waste things. It’s challenging, you’re always thinking about what’s there? What can I eat? Do I need to buy that much?” he said.

The Surrey and White Rock Food Action Coalition is made of a group of volunteers that work towards food security.

More information on the coalition, or to volunteer, can be found at http://surreywhiterockfoodactioncoalition.ca

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