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    Happy Meals

    Kenora Salvation Army takes recycling to the next level, with the help of some animal friends. November 13, 2018 by Jordan Thompson
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    (Above) Sandra Poole and Gloria Saboyard, family services attendant, bring food into the Kenora thrift store (Photo: Jordan Thompson)

    Pigs, chickens and rabbits may not be the typical clientele for a Salvation Army food bank. But Sandra Poole and the Lake of the Woods Community Church and thrift store in Kenora, Ont., are more than happy to include furry and feathered friends, if it means keeping expired and damaged goods from ending up in the landfill.

    “The seed of the idea was planted by Peter Thomas, community and family services consultant at territorial headquarters in Toronto,” says Poole, business manager of the Kenora thrift store. “I was telling him about the stuff we have to get rid of—especially after a big event—be it outdated or so damaged that we can’t give it out.

    “Peter commented that when he had a food bank in Midland, Ont., he passed on the product that couldn’t be given to clients to local pig farmers.”

    After putting out a plea on social media in April 2018, Poole learned of Beaver Creek Ranch, a family entertainment farm about 10 minutes from downtown Kenora, which is owned and operated by Amanda Boucha and her husband.

    “We contacted Amanda and asked if they’d be willing to take any unusable or expired items,” says Poole. “They said they would be happy to and so the food recycling program was born.”

    Now, all of the food items Poole receives that are either already expired, or have been damaged to the point of being unuseable, go into a box that is set aside for the farm. Boucha picks up the food on a weekly basis and uses it to feed the animals at Beaver Creek Ranch.

    Photo of pigs eating breadPigs at Beaver Creek Ranch enjoy a meal of recycled bread, courtesy of The Salvation Army
    “We notice, specifically when we have food drives, that we get a lot of expired stuff,” Poole says, noting that the Kenora Salvation Army did a food drive around Thanksgiving last year that brought in nearly six boxes of food that was already expired. “Even though we always ask people not to bring us expired food because we just have to dispose of it, it still comes.”

    Recycling the expired food in this way reflects The Salvation Army’s commitment to good stewardship of the environment, while supporting local agro-tourism.

    For Boucha and Beaver Creek Ranch, the food donations help to offset their costs, as the farm is not currently a source of income for them.

    “We just wanted to create a place where families can come and have an experience,” Boucha says. “Plus, I’m thrilled about the whole recycling part of things.”

    In addition to the recycling of food products through Beaver Creek Ranch, the Kenora thrift store, along with the Army’s store in nearby Dryden, Ont., also finds ways to recycle their damaged or unsellable clothing items.

    In all cases of donated goods being given away to other organizations, Poole emphasizes that it is done as an absolute last resort, and only if the item is severely damaged, past its expiry date or hasn’t sold for more than six weeks.

    “I don’t like adding to the landfill if I can help it,” she says. “Kenora is a small town and the landfill only has so much space, so if we can divert even one van load a week we’ve done well.”

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