As Langley poultry producer Corry Spitters tells it, donating 24,000 pounds of locally-raised, organic free-range chicken to food banks helped him solve an irritating problem.
There was all this organic chicken, you see, tons of it, that his company had processed and packaged and frozen, only to see it sit in storage.
Because of a shift in the poultry industry, coupled with a change of direction by his company, Oranya Farms, it wasn’t going to be possible to sell it in bulk.
That left Spitters with three options; sell more than 24,000 pounds of chicken directly at farmers’ markets, give it away or dump it in a landfill.
All were problematic.
“The effort to direct market is massive,” Spitters says, and the idea of trying to sell chicken one portion at a time was not attractive.
He tried giving it away and managed to fill a lot of friends’ fridges and some charity freezers in the process, but that proved to be slow going.
“I couldn’t give it away fast enough,” Spitters says.
And throwing out high-quality organic chicken that had been carefully packed in individual commercial-grade wraps?
A complete non-starter.
Then, Spitters happened to mention the problem while he was talking with Lisa Klee, his business banking expert at Envision Financial, a division of First West Credit Union.
“We got to talking about the Full Cupboard program supporting local food banks,” Spitters recalls.
Envision Financial’s The Full Cupboard program raises food, funds and awareness for local food banks through food and financial donations from First West Credit Union employees, members and community partners.
“I’m pleased it’s going to local food banks. Envision Financial connected me to the right people, so the decision was easy,” Spitters says.
Spitters estimates the retail value of the donated chicken to be more than $113,000.
Bruce Strom, operations coordinator for the Sources Langley Food Bank, says their clients are “amazed and grateful to receive such a high-quality product.”
“Sources of protein are the most expensive and challenging for our food bank to come by, especially early in the year, following the busy holiday season,” Strom says.
Food Banks BC executive director Laura Lansink says food producers like Spitters, who operates the largest organic and Silkie poultry farms in Canada, can make a tremendous difference for local food banks, simply because of the scale of their operations.
“We’re grateful for those that regularly support local food banks and would love to partner with more,” Lansink says.
Now in its third year, The Full Cupboard program has raised more than $353,000 and collected more than 60,000 pounds of food for local food banks in the Lower Mainland and Kitimat.
“We get excited about this kind of thing,” says Susan Byrom, senior manager of community investment at Envision Financial.
“It’s important to us that we’re nurturing connections between people in our communities and community organizations that are helping make a difference for those who are in need or vulnerable.”