Rescuing Food. Impacting Lives.
Rescuing Food. Impacting Lives.
We believe that GOOD nutritious food is a vehicle to healthier and more vibrant communities; however, getting it to people who need it most isn’t always an easy task. Just ask Melissa Bain, Food for Life’s Director of Operations. It’s her job to execute our mission, navigating the logistics for the pickup and distribution of rescued food.
Moving food swiftly and safely isn’t possible without a reliable transportation fleet. When Bain started her job at Food for Life, transporting a food donation could mean making multiple trips in one vehicle.
“Let’s just say there are 12 pallets of potatoes, which is pretty normal for this time of year. Our trucks would have to do two to three separate trips, back and forth,” says Bain. “Even if we had a truck with 12 pallet spaces, if it didn’t have a double axle on it, the carrying capacity alone wouldn’t allow you to fill that truck to its potential.”
All this changed just over five years ago when Food for Life added our first tandem truck, a three-axle vehicle, which allowed us to not only be more efficient, but also more environmentally friendly, making fewer trips by truck to pick-up heavy items, including dairy products or beverage donations.
“That truck really marked the beginning of our growth. It set our intention to start picking up really heavy loads of food, as opposed to just getting a couple boxes at grocery stores,” says Bain. “It’s a marker that our intention was to start growing and start picking up larger food industry donations.”
Since then, our fleet has grown significantly to meet community needs and now includes several vehicles, including a 20-foot Hino truck we call our “community cruiser” and three refrigerated vans, ideal for small pickups and home deliveries that joined the fleet during Covid-19.
The vans are the most recent additions to our fleet and were made possible thanks to the successful outcome of a community-based, collaborative funding approach. The community rallied to support the purchases through both grants and financial contributions from local community foundations in Oakville, Burlington, North Halton, Hamilton, and private caring donors including the Hadley Family Foundation and Balaz Family in Milton. The vans bring agility and flexibility to our ability to serve and engage the community.
“We need to have diversity in our fleet. There are certain stops that we’re doing where that would be very tight, like alley spaces,” says Bain. In residential areas, she adds, large trucks can’t legally drive on certain roads. Smaller vehicles have also been crucial as Food for Life responds to the COVID-19 crisis.
“Because of COVID, we’ve started doing home deliveries to people that need to either stay in isolation or are unable to get out of their houses for various reasons during this time,” says Bain. “The vans just made sense for home deliveries.” Being a “G” class vehicle means we can engage more volunteers as our partners from the Optimist Club of Milton who, once trained, can drive our vans and support programs like our Wednesday evening curbside program helping us meet the evolving needs of the community.
So what about our big trucks? We have a talented and caring team of five DZ certified drivers that together drive more than 125,000 km each year to rescue and share food. Our longest-serving driver is Ron, our Manager of Fleet and Equipment, who has shared 11 years of his time serving the community through Food for Life. He ensures our fleet is running optimally as part of our community to sustainability in all we do. He was even around in 2008 when Food for Life welcomed the first hybrid diesel/electric truck to our fleet thanks to the Sprott Foundation. This was a first for a food-related charity in Canada!
To learn more about our fleet, our team, and our commitment to sustainability, visit: https://foodforlife.ca/our-environmental-impact/