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BC only Food Exchange Program Gets One Million Dollor Grant

BC’s only food exchange program gets $1-million grant from credit union

Vancouver, BC, November 23, 2006 - A program that rescues high-quality food, keeping it out of landfills and redistributing it to non-profit agencies that feed hungry people across the Lower Mainland, has won a $1-million award from Vancity.

This year's $1-million Vancity Award goes to Quest Outreach Society for the expansion of BC's only food exchange program.

Last year, Quest Food Exchange diverted 6.6 million pounds of surplus high-quality food from Lower Mainland landfills, which added up to $7 million worth of food. Each day the organization fills, then empties, its Vancouver warehouse providing food to more than a hundred social service agencies feeding more than 45,000 people a month.

With the help of the Vancity Award, Quest will purchase a warehouse that will enable them to triple their capacity over two years. A larger space will mean the potential to rescue nearly 20 million pounds of high-quality food each year and redistribute it to nearly 150,000 people in the Lower Mainland each month.

"Quest would like to thank Vancity and its members for voting for us," says Shelley Wells, executive director of Quest. "As a result of campaigning, we have gained new food suppliers, new social service agency partners, new volunteers and now the funding for a new facility. With these new partnerships and the continued support of our donors, we can more strongly address the Lower Mainland's food distribution problem and connect high-quality, healthy food with those who need it most."

The $1-million Vancity Award, the largest corporate gift of its kind in Canada, was established in 2001 by Vancity's Board of Directors to support the social, environmental and economic well-being of the community by funding a project that would make a major, long-lasting impact on people's lives.

This year marks the sixth year of the award that is available to non-profit groups in the Lower Mainland and Victoria. The funds for the Award come from a percentage of Vancity profits set aside each year for community initiatives.

Quest Outreach Society was chosen from four finalists by Vancity members who voted by ballot, online and over the phone. The other three finalists included: AIDS Vancouver Island and Cool Aid Society for a health centre that would house heath care and social services in one building in Victoria; Atira Women's Resource Society, for a pre- and post-natal health care centre in Surrey; and the Crisis Centre for expansion of its groundbreaking program to provide 24/7 one-on-one support.

"These were all great projects and it would have been our privilege to support any of them, but in the end it was our members who decided the project that most resonated with them," says Elain Duvall, chair of Vancity's Board of Directors. "Quest's Food Exchange program fits both Vancity's environmental and social objectives. We think the idea of keeping good food out of landfills and into hungry bellies is inspirational."

Quest partners with non-profit organizations in Lower Mainland communities, including Vancouver; Burnaby; New Westminster, North Vancouver, Richmond, Surrey, Tri-Cities and Maple Ridge.

Last year, PLEA Community Services Society of BC won for the expansion of its KidStart Mentoring Program.

Other $1-million Vancity Award winners include: Better Environmentally Sound Transportation (BEST) for its Greenway project; Vancouver East Cultural Centre for its theatre revitalization; WISH for its wellness centre in Vancouver's Downtown Eastside; and the Phoenix Drug and Alcohol Recovery and Education Society for an addiction treatment centre.

Application letters for the next Vancity Award will be accepted from non-profit organizations in the communities Vancity serves until December 23, 2006.

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Vancity is Canada's largest credit union, with $11.8 billion in assets, more than 345,000 members, and 46 branches throughout Greater Vancouver, the Fraser Valley and Victoria, as well as two Squamish Savings branches. This year, Vancity was named the Best Place to Work in Canada by Canadian Business Magazine and is celebrating its 60th anniversary. Vancity owns Citizens Bank of Canada, serving members across the country by telephone, ATM, and the Internet.

For more information:
Sara Holland
Vancity Media Relations

Shelley Wells
Quest Food Exchange, Executive Director
Cell: 604.785.7557