By Cal Braid
Sunny South News
The Southern Community Food Security Society (SCFS) is a not-for-profit charity that operates its mission out of a warehouse in Raymond. According to founder/CEO/vice-chair Brittaney Taylor, the society’s focus is on “equitable, accessible, and sustainable food security for rural and marginalized southern Albertans.” SCFS serves multiple communities in the area and recently opened a non-profit thrift store in Raymond.
The society is a family operation and has been active for over four years. Taylor works with Betty, Brian, Blaise, and Brandy Loder to run the operation. The family has lived and farmed in southern Alberta for more than seven generations.
Minimizing waste is a top priority for the group. “We work with a charity that redirects grocery store food waste away from the landfills to be utilized by small farmers to feed their livestock,” Taylor said. “This operation is amazing and helps so many small farmers be able to operate sustainably, and we support the mission and vision of their operation. Farmers need all the support they can get.”
Taylor said that SCFS has had “a firsthand look at the immense amount of food that is routinely sent to the landfills,” and that almost 60 per cent of consumable food produced in Canada is discarded each year. “We discovered that there are a multitude of food producers that still routinely send their consumable foods to the landfill. Some companies do this because it is cheaper for the business in many instances.”
“In February of 2022, our team partnered with a rural food-rescue non-profit, where we created and networked the program Hand Up, Not Out food rescue and distribution. (We) saw over a million pounds of groceries distributed to the communities of Raymond, Stirling, Magrath, Cardston, Kainai Nation, and Coalhurst. We have no corporate sponsorship or grant funding yet. A registered charity status takes months of processing, and most funding from grants and corporations require a registered status,” Taylor said.
In the meantime, the society has launched Southern Community Thrift, another not-for-profit project intended to support their food charity. Taylor said that the landlord of a building offered them a six-month trial period “to see if a thrift store can thrive in Raymond.” All of the profits go towards their food security vision and mission. The thrift store has a ‘give and take’ rack, meaning folks can take what they need and leave something if they can. Donations are not mandatory to benefit from it. The store also has a ‘give and take’ event in the store every other Saturday from 10 a.m.-4 p.m.
Taylor described SCFS as both “a stationary and a mobile operation that distributes corporate and civilian donated food to people and communities that are experiencing temporary and chronic food insecurity. Our vision is a thriving southern Alberta where no person, family, or community suffers from the consequences of food insecurity. We are a charitable organization, we operate without gain for our members, and any profits or other assets of the organization will be used solely to promote our objectives.”
To function, the operation must maintain a warehouse, freezer, and office space in Raymond. That space includes a food pantry service in the warehouse. In addition, they arrange for the transportation of food to and from the warehouse. Food-distribution events in surrounding communities require mobile operation, and monthly food-distribution events help those who are suffering from food insecurity. They recruit volunteers and establish partnerships with corporate and local food operations and farmers to collect food donations. SCFS holds community food donation events and accepts donations of housewares and clothing for the thrift store. They assist those in need of a helping hand free of charge.
The society offers large and moderate food distribution events out of its warehouse at least once a month. “These events offer each person who attends a food package,” Taylor said. “We provide this service without discrimination. Temporary food insecurity can hit us all at any time; we want to erode the stigma around needing help. There are many barriers that stop folks from accessing food security, and our mission is to create communities where those barriers no longer exist.” The society announces the events on both its website and social media pages. Taylor expects the mobile operation to fully launch in 2023, but encourages rural residents in neighbouring towns and counties to participate in the society’s services and events.
On Dec. 17, the SCFS will be hosting a Southern Community Neighbourly Christmas event from 1-5 p.m. at their warehouse. “We have sponsored 150-holiday meal baskets, consisting of turkeys, ham, or chicken, potatoes and carrots, stuffing, gravy, cranberry sauce, freshly baked buns, and jello,” Taylor said. “We have also been donated 1,400 pounds of apples by a local farmer, so everyone is welcome to take some. At this event, we will also be hosting a plated turkey dinner fundraiser. A local baker has offered to assist in preparing plates of turkey, potatoes, carrots, stuffing, gravy, cranberry sauce, freshly baked bun, and jello. These are $10 a plate and can be pre-ordered at email@example.com. We have dozens of plates sponsored for anyone who would enjoy a warm turkey dinner but might be struggling during these hard times. Local businesses have contributed prizes to be raffled off at our event to fundraise for our charity, so we hope to see more of the community there, not only those experiencing hardships. This is an opportunity to bring the community together and share in the warmth and love of the holiday season.”
Currently, SCFS is in need of warehouse equipment and supplies, as well as supplies for the thrift store. Taylor listed equipment they could benefit from as: industrial shelving, freezing and refrigerating units, bags for packing and distributing food, clothing taggers and tags, a forklift, tables and shelves, crates, and a donation bin. “We also need volunteers,” she said. “All board members and those who work with our organization are volunteers who are passionate about creating compassionate and resilient communities.”
“Sustainability is an important element we wish to embody in what we promote and do,” Taylor said, quoting a proverb: “If you give a man a fish, you feed him for a day. If you teach a man to fish, you feed him for a lifetime.”
To connect with a service or as a volunteer, visit http://www.scfoodsecurity.com. The warehouse is in Bay 4-257 Railway Ave and Southern Community Thrift is at 19 Broadway N in Raymond. Email firstname.lastname@example.org or phone 403-679-2655. Facebook and Instagram @Southern Community Food Security and @Southern Community Thrift Nonprofit.
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