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Food bank to get Safeway donations

SPOTLIGHT PHOTO: NICOLE THILL - The Columbia Pacific Food Bank regularly collects donations of non-perishable foods for families in Columbia County. The food bank also collects fresh produce from community gardeners and fresh foods from grocery stores to distribute.The Columbia Pacific Food Bank will now be able to obtain more fresh food to distribute to families and individuals in need in the community with the partnership of another grocery store chain.

Two local Safeway stores have become partners in the Fresh Alliance program that supplies fresh food to the county food bank, according to Columbia Pacific Food Bank Executive Director Casey Wheeler.

Fresh Alliance program partners who currently work with the food bank include Fred Meyer, Market Fresh IGA, Grocery Outlet and Walmart.

Fresh Alliance is a program that began in 2001 to collect perishable food items from grocery stores that could be donated to families in need. Grocery stores often throw away items that are reaching their “sell by” date when the items are less likely to be sold in the store.

Perishable items like eggs, milk, packaged meat and produce that would be thrown away are instead donated to food bank partners and distributed.

“The grocery rescue program is a win-win,” Jay Feeney, the environmental manager for Albertsons and Safeway, said in a press release. “By throwing less food away, our stores reduce operating costs and at the same time we’re giving back to our communities, helping our neighbors who don’t have enough to eat.”

The Columbia Pacific Food Bank currently distributes food to distribution centers in Scappoose, St. Helens, Vernonia and Rainier.

Wheeler said, on an average week, 30 families come to the St. Helens food pantry to get food.

“The addition of Safeway to Fresh Alliance means more good food will go to the people who need it most,” Wheeler said.