There's a new option in town for lowincome families who need help putting food on the table.
Quest Food Exchange is opening a new market in Burnaby on Monday. The notfor-profit collects food from warehouses and retailers and resells it at a fraction of the cost. Unlike the food bank, clients can choose what they want in a grocery market setting that offers healthier options.
"You purchase what you regularly would, instead of paying $100 you may pay $10, there's a drastic difference. Our products are healthier," said marketing manager Raj Patara.
Quest's mandate is to reduce hunger with dignity, build community and foster sustainability.
According to Patara, many low-income families have too much pride to line up at the food bank and would rather starve.
"We see a lot of our clients from the food bank," Patara said. "They want that normalcy, they want options to pick out."
Volunteers and staff use donated trucks from the Vancouver airport to pick up food from various outlets.
"It's a give-give," Patara said. "They donate a lot of food, we give them a tax receipt, so they get something back," she said.
Prices at Quest are 50 to 70 per cent cheaper than the regular market, but clients have to pay to keep the operation afloat.
Quest has more than 1,400 volunteers, and 23 paid employees between four markets and two distribution centres.
In 2012, Quest distributed $5 million worth of food, and clients made 154,026 shopping trips.
The new Burnaby location, at 7753 Sixth St., is meant to serve people in Burnaby and New Westminster.
Quest is not open to the general public; clients are referred through schools, churches, non-profit groups, government agencies or doctors.
Once prospective clients fill out an online form, they can shop at any of Quest's four locations in Vancouver, Surrey and now Burnaby.
Anyone interested in becoming a client needs a referral. For more on Quest or to volunteer, go to www.questoutreach.org.
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