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Grand Opening: Quest Food Exchange now redistributing food, offering dignity at new Union Gospel Mission location

Vancouver, BC—It seems unthinkable that food insecurity would be prevalent in a city where so much surplus ends up in landfills, but this dichotomy persists even in Vancouver.  However, one local organization is working hard to alleviate both issues. Quest Food Exchange is an innovative not-for-profit food exchange program that not only rescues excess food, it provides healthy and affordable groceries to Vancouver’s most vulnerable—and now, it is expanding its reach. On Wednesday, August 31, 2011, Quest will celebrate the grand opening of the 611 East Hastings location at the new Union Gospel Mission building in Vancouver.

While there is an abundance of corner and “grocery” stores on the Downtown Eastside, recent UGM research indicates that 77% of those stores did not stock any fresh produce—up from 57% when queried in 2005.

“In a time of heightened food prices, 17% of British Columbians experience food insecurity every day,” says Elizabeth Crudgington, Quest Executive Director. “In the past, healthy and affordable food has not been a reality for all, particularly not on the Downtown Eastside, but with our new store, we are working hard to change that.”

The supply is available; it’s just a matter of matching it with the demand. According to a recent United Nations study, about one-third of food produced ends up in landfills. Quest redistributes 5.77 million pounds of that food each year—the equivalent of over $7 million dollars—which is provided to food and school programs or is taken to one of Quest’s three exceptionally low-cost grocery stores. Not open to the general public, these stores are accessible by clients who have been referred by social service agencies, offering a welcoming and dignified environment in which to find nutritious, quality food. Groceries offered can be anything from fresh fruits and vegetables, milk and bread, to dessert, proteins, canned goods, vitamins, and household items.  Social service agencies can also purchase gift certificates to distribute to their clients who can then choose their own items, giving them the opportunity to plan meals, and work around their dietary needs.

“We are delighted to have Quest as a building tenant and to partner with them,” says Union Gospel Mission President, Bill Mollard. “Our aim is to offer dignified stepping stones toward independence and healthy living—and Quest is one of those bridges. They help people transition from food bank reliance to self-sufficiency, as well as gain a deeper understanding of healthy eating, meal planning, and budgeting.”

Although Quest redistributes a large amount of food each year, it still only accounts for 1% of BC’s food that would otherwise go unused.

“Much work is still to be done in preventing this waste and taxation on the environment so that perfectly good food can be offered to those who are unable to access it,” says Crudgington. “This store opening at UGM is a great start.”

What:         Tour and short presentation for Quest Grand Opening at UGM
When:        Wednesday, August 31, 2011; 9:00 AM – 10:00 AM
Formal speeches conclude around 9:30AM; Speakers include Hon. Harry Bloy and Hon. Stephanie Cadieux
Where:       611 East Hastings Street (part of the Union Gospel Mission building at Princess)

Union Gospel Mission has been feeding hope and changing the lives of
men, women, and children for over 70 years. Through its 9 locations in
Metro Vancouver and the city of Mission, UGM provides counseling,
education, safe housing, and alcohol and drug recovery to those
struggling with poverty, homelessness, and addiction. The heart of the
mission is to demonstrate God’s transforming love, ease the burden of
the most vulnerable, rebuild the lives of the broken, and offer dignity
to those who feel cast aside. UGM is a proud member of the Canadian
Council of Christian Charities and the Association of Gospel Rescue
Missions. For more, visit


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