Charitable Choices: Anna Gray of Food Stash Foundation

Food Stash Foundation uses its fleet of trucks to collect and redistribute food from grocery stores, wholesale groceries and farms to charities across Vancouver with the excess going to their own food box delivery services for low-income folks living with disabilities and a low-barrier market open that is everyone. We spoke with their Communications Coordinator, Anna Gray, to find out more about what they do.

Food Stash Foundation

Describe your charity/non-profit/volunteer work in a few sentences.

We are a registered charity based in Vancouver BC and we have a fleet of trucks that collects and redistributes food from grocery stores, wholesale groceries and farms. We then deliver most of this good food to other charities across Vancouver and with the remaining food run our own food box delivery services for low-income folks living with disabilities and a low-barrier market open to everyone.

What problem does it aim to solve?

Food Stash Foundation has a two-fold mission: to prevent good food from going to waste and provide dignified food access to promote a thriving planet and a healthy community. We focus on offering healthy produce, protein and dairy and creating a food charity model where everyone feels dignified despite their financial circumstances.

When did you start/join it?

I started at Food Stash a little under two years ago.

What made you want to get involved?

I had worked in the restaurant industry but wanted to experience a different side of the food industry. So when I found Food Stash Foundation it felt like the perfect place to learn more about our food supply, sustainability and food insecurity in a unique city like Vancouver. I’ve stuck around because the community and passion that surrounds their mission is so inspiring.

What was the situation like when you started?/ How has it changed since?

Food Stash was founded in 2016 as a response to a school teacher watching the documentary ‘Just Eat It’. He saw how much food was being wasted in Vancouver so he rented a basement suite and used a friend’s minivan to collect food from grocery stores. Since then we’ve grown so much and now operate out of our own warehouse. We have 3 trucks that are collecting food 7 days a week, deliver around 120 members weekly customized food boxes and serve 170 people weekly at our market (Our market is currently paused until March but we encourage people to check our website or social media for updates).

We’ve made huge strides in our impact – rescuing over 1 million pounds of food in 2022. But ultimately food charity isn’t the solution to solving hunger in Canada.

Food Stash Foundation

What more needs to be done?

We need government action – this means putting budget towards community food programs, ensuring that food prices don’t uselessly continue to rise, regulating rent prices so that people don’t have to choose between shelter and food. In Vancouver, less than 0.1% of their total budget is going towards food security, but we see firsthand that if we put more money towards a basic right like food then people have more capacity to work on other issues like mental health or housing.

How can our readers help?

Readers can help by voting! Making sure that they are putting their vote towards candidates that care about food security because it often gets forgotten because food insecurity can look different depending on your circumstances.

Also getting involved in community food initiatives whether this is community kitchens, community fridges, volunteering or donating. Food security is a social justice issue as much as an environmental issue and at Food Stash we bring both those causes together – fighting food waste by rescuing food that would have otherwise been thrown away and making sure our model of food charity is dignified.

Do you have any events coming up?

We’re hosting a fermentation workshop on February 11th from 2 – 3:30 pm at our warehouse (290 E 1st ave). It’s a hands-on class where you’ll be making your own sauerkraut. You’ll get to take home supplies and knowledge to make fermented foods at home. It’s a great way to reduce food waste and has excellent health benefits.

We’re also hosting an online Nutrition 3-part workshop meant to encourage healthy eating habits. February 9th, 16 and 23rd from 5 – 6:30 pm you’ll be guided through by registered dietitian Karen Giesbrecht who has worked with folks in the Downtown Eastside on nutrition and strives to make this information accessible to all.

Where can we follow you?

Instagram | FacebookTikTok | Website

PAY IT FORWARD: What is an awesome local charity that you love?

Vancouver Food Runners! They are also in the food-rescuing business and often work closely with our team to rescue smaller-scale food donations from restaurants. They share our passion for fighting food waste and have such a dedicated volunteer and team.