Volunteers sort and pack donations at last year's Agassiz Fire Department Food Drive

Volunteers sort and pack donations at last year's Agassiz Fire Department Food Drive

Food bank reminds public to donate good quality items

When in doubt, throw it out, says community services

  • Dec. 3, 2014 10:00 a.m.

One of the biggest food drives is being held tonight, as the Agassiz Fire Department goes door to door in search of donations for the food bank.

In addition to tonight’s blitz, there are food drives happening in workplaces, in local schools, and at events throughout the month. In just a few weeks, even the CP Holiday Train will make a stop in town — offering the public another chance to share what’s in their pantries with those less fortunate.

Keeping that in mind, Agassiz-Harrison Community Services is reminding those donating to make sure the food being sent into them is edible.

“(We) see the kind spirit of our communities by the many food drives being conducted at this time of year,” Community Services said in a press release. “With all of the cans and food products being gratefully donated, AHCS would like to share some information about the importance of checking the labels for unusable food.”

Put simply: When in doubt, throw it out.

They remind those donating to double check the best before and expiry dates on foods.

“Health Canada is advising Canadians of what they should know about this kind of label,” they noted. “The best before date tells you about the freshness and shelf life of the unopened food you are buying. It must appear on almost all pre-packaged foods that will keep fresh for 90 days or less. Some foods show a best before date even if they are not required to do so. It is important to know that a best before date is only meant to indicate how long a food will retain its normal wholesomeness, flavour, and nutritional value when stored under normal conditions. “Health Canada recommends that you not consume unopened food products that have passed their best before date. They may have lost some of their flavour or their texture may have changed. Do not rely on your sight, smell or taste to judge the safety of food. Use your judgment. When in doubt, throw it out.”

Not sure how to read a best before date? Community Services offers this advice:

“Best before dates must be in both official languages, using the words “best before” and “meilleur avant” with a date in the year-month-day format. The month may be expressed as a numeral or by one of the bilingual abbreviations. The year is optional, unless it is needed for clarity (i.e., if the shelf life extends into a new calendar year),” they said.

So, what is an expiration date and how is it different from a best before date?

“Some foods-such as meal replacements, nutritional supplements, infant formulas and formulated liquid diets must carry an expiration date,” they said. “The expiration date is the date up to which the food maintains its microbiological and physical stability and the nutrient content declared on the label. Foods with an expiration date should not be consumed after the date on the label has passed. When an expiration date has passed, there is no doubt, throw it out.”

With these guidelines as explained by Health Canada, Agassiz-Harrison Community Services hopes that the dates are checked on the donations before they are brought in. AHCS wants your very generous donation to go where you intend it to go, into the homes of those who are in need.

Where to donate

• The Agassiz Fire Department is holding their annual food drive on Dec. 4 with the help of the Agassiz Scouts, Search and Rescue, Ambulance Services, along with a team of spouses, children and friends. Watch for the fire trucks and volunteers to come around door to door from 6 p.m. to 9 p.m., or drop off your donations right at the fire hall.

• The annual UFVRD Stuff the Cruiser event will take place on Saturday, Dec. 6 from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. at SuperValu in Agassiz.

• The Community Christmas Carol Festival is held at the Agassiz Agricultural Hall on Thursday, Dec. 11 at 7 p.m. The admission is free, but patrons are asked to bring along canned foods.

• The CP Holiday Train will visit Agassiz on Dec. 17 at about 5 p.m. While the train brings along a great show, they also arrive with a large cheque for the food bank. The community is invited to share in the spirit of giving and bring along food items.

• Many schools and churches also collect food and cash donations on behalf of the local food bank.

* To donate directly to Agassiz Harrison Community Services, call 604-796-2585.