Food Recovery Project (reFRESH Cowichan)

For many years, CGC has strived to create greater access to nutritional food throughout the Cowichan Region. With almost one in four children living in poverty, our community has never needed better access to food as much as now. At the same time, we have an overwhelming global food waste problem. Canada alone wastes over 55% of the food it produces, equaling over 35 million tons annually, much of which ends up in landfills creating a large and unnecessary environmental issue.

In early 2018, the Food Recovery Project was established through a Government of British Columbia Job Creation Partnership, to both ‘recover’ food from large food retailers while also servicing the community by delivering this perfectly edible produce to vulnerable community members at no cost.

To date, this project has redistributed over 250,000lbs of fruit and vegetables to all corners of the Cowichan Region to those who need it most. With a transport vehicle and sufficient cooler and freezer space, the program delivers up to 1000lbs of fresh food daily to over 15 local service provides and community organizations.

The Food Recovery Project lies under the umbrella of ‘reFRESH Cowichan’ which utilizes an onsite commercial kitchen and retail space to process and sell a small percentage of the recovered food from specific retailers. This in turn, covers some of the necessary ongoing operational costs, while making sure all food is directed into a number of sustainable streams.


Latest News:

In August 2020 CGC received further funding through another Government of Canada Job Creation Partnership to increase the outreach of the food distribution while also looking at ways to increase training and skill building opportunities. The ‘Community Food Access’ project looks at continuing to recover and distribute even more food, but has a focus on skill building and helping individuals back into the work force. 

The employment piece is twofold. First, four participants recently on employment insurance, have been hired to assist the project with its deliverables while also building skills and tangible work experience through the various CGC programs, to increase their opportunities for sustainable employment. And second, the team is developing a number of workshops aimed at the vulnerable communities that CGC supports with food, providing both nutrition and skill building in one neat package… or in this case, a banana box! 

Since March 2020, CGC established the Emergency Food Task Force with a number of other local community organizations, service providers, the school district, non-profits and the City of Duncan. The Task Force’s goal is to ensure food is distributed to the most vulnerable communities of people affected by the current pandemic, addressing the food insecurity it has generated. A panel of representatives have been meeting weekly via Zoom to discuss food shortages and develop plans to alleviate them as they arise. Getting so many passionate people in a virtual room together has enabled a solution driven approach to get food, meals and support together very quickly.  

If you would like any more information on the project or would like to donate time or money to this project, please contact Project Supervisor Nathan Harben at or 250 748 8506

Project Staff:

Nathan Harben – Project Supervisor

Julika Pape – Community Outreach Coordinator

Robert Charlie – Kitchen Team

Judy Caughlin – Kitchen/Store Team

Jake Brewer – Driver/Kitchen Team


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