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They Won’t Take No for an Answer 

Cargill works with Canadian team by providing an opportunity for a local food bank

July 23, 2013

The Cargill Meat Solutions (CMS) team tried to make a large donation to the local Salvation Army food bank. However, they were turned away for a dismaying reason. The food bank couldn’t accept perishable donations because it didn’t have any refrigeration.
The food bank supported 80 to 100 families each month, but without refrigeration, all the Salvation Army could do was provide non-perishables and offer limited gift certificates. Families could purchase dairy, bread, fresh produce and meat elsewhere with the gift certificates.

Rather than giving up, the Cargill Meat Solutions team installed industrial refrigeration units at the food bank so the Salvation Army could accept regular donations. It was a daunting task with a high price tag. But working with people all around the business, the team began to make in-roads toward gathering the necessary contributions.

No stone unturned in search for donations

The Cargill Meat Solutions team reached out to Jason McCaullay, manager of the local Sobeys, a large Canadian grocery store chain. Jason spoke to his refrigeration contractor and convinced the contractor to donate two large units: an 8 foot by 12 foot walk-in freezer and a 12 foot by 12 foot walk-in cooler.

The team also got a refrigeration company, Chinook Refrigeration in nearby Calgary, to install the units. The donated labor included a crew of eight working for forty hours.

But the team wasn’t just determined to help improve food security for local families in need. They wanted to ensure food safety, too. The refrigeration units were wired to allow food bank employees to pull temperature data and keep refrigeration logs, and Cargill Meat Solutions employees from quality assurance are working with the food bank to develop safe food handling practices.

More work yet to be done

The project received the go-ahead in February 2012. In May, with the installation completed, the food bank held a ribbon cutting ceremony during Hunger Awareness Week. Yet despite this accomplishment, the Cargill Meat Solutions team knows the larger job remains unfinished.

“The actual installation now feels anti-climactic, because the task is still before us to continue supporting the food bank and educating the community,” said Kathi Edmonds, occupational health nurse with Cargill Meat Solutions and a lead organizer of the project. “We need to keep those units full and provide more balanced nutrition to those in need.”

To that end, Cargill will make a monthly product donation going forward, to be cut and wrapped by Sobeys in High River. Sobeys has also committed to organizing employees to volunteer regularly.

With the food bank continuing to serve a growing number of families, the installation project and the business’s ongoing efforts will help meet an essential need in the community.