The food insecurity epidemic that demanded attention resulted in a community-wide collaboration, featuring the London Food Coalition, London Chrysler, and various other sponsors and organizations. Earlier this month, a major milestone was announced in their mission to fight food insecurity by introducing a new refrigerated truck that will help to transport thousands of dollars in fresh food.
The $62,000 truck was attainable with the help of numerous sponsors, Chrysler and the coalition. It was retrofitted to include refrigeration for food transport. Previously, the coalition was collecting about $4,000 worth of food a week. However, the lack of proper temperature storage and transportation left thousands of dollars in food to waste.
A concern from producers and grocery stores is the liability of donating food without proper storage from the receiver. Those numbers sparked the desire of this program and pushed for the new refrigerated truck. Now, the coalition believes they will be able to collect about $10,000 worth of food a week – more than double the prior numbers.
Coalition Facilitator, Tosha Densky, says “not only is it a cost saving for the non profit organizations working with our most vulnerable community members, but it also increases the health and wellness outcomes for these community members because fresh, nutritious food is hard to come-by.”
The influx of fresh food adds value and variety to the non-perishables that soup kitchens are typically filled with. With fruits and vegetables in the picture, a whole different quality of meals will be available.
“Food insecurity is one of the most detrimental health negative outcomes for children that grow into adults. Food insecurity contributes to a number of mental health and physical health challenges later in life. We need to come up with solutions to increase food security in our community for all of the members in our community.”
The coalition and its partners are optimistic to see big changes coming up in the nearby future. Densky says that the collaborative can only grow and expand with so many partners, “the goal that I would like to see is all grocery stores, big distributors and warehouses on board, and the whole community benefiting. All organizations working with folks that are vulnerable. I would love to see all organizations connected to this food.”
She is certain that once the rest of the community sees how involved everybody else is, and the beneficial impact it has on the community, there will be no hesitation to get involved.
- Consumer choice awareness – City Councillor of Ward 4, Jesse Helmer
- Mobile grocery stores for “food deserts” – City Councillor of Ward 1, Michael Van Holst
- Another truck – General Manager of Chrysler London, Jeff McHardy
- Criminalization of food waste – Executive Director of Ark Aid Street Mission, Doug Whitelaw
Operating partners within the coalition have been helping one another out for years by trading or supplying goods to those that may fall short. Doug Whitelaw from Ark Aid says the coalition has “our eye on the next ball.”
“The next step is to make it illegal to throw out food, like how they do in France. We’ve had discussions with the deputy premier about that and we’ve had a positive response. This is an issue that its time has come. One time or another, that will happen. I am confident.
The London Food Coalition is a group of numerous organizations that work with members of the community who are at-risk of poverty and food insecure.
Organizations such as Meals on Wheels London, Ark Aid Street Mission and The Boys’ and Girls’ Club are some of the coalition members who have been independently operating for years, but all identify with the same goals and mindset.
Densky says a collaboration to bring all these independently operating organizations was easy.
“Every organization or group we’ve approach have identified food insecurity as a major issue in our city. This created a platform as a collaborative to get together and do something about it. Something that is positive environmentally, but will also strengthen food security in London. The atmosphere, the climate, the willing were all there. Folks have struggled with this for a really long time and just to be open to the possibilities and the momentum – everything just aligned.
In the span of nine months, the London Food Coalition formed a network with over 26 partners, in addition to a number of supporters, secured funding for the truck, implemented a food hub and created a network that allows the food retrieval and distribution system to be simple. She happily shares the ease of working on a project that operated as smoothly and quickly as it was facilitating the coalition, with “so much backing and momentum behind it.”