EDMONTON — Fuel. Everything needs it to stay running: vehicles, electricity… people.
While we celebrate efforts to keep our carbon footprint down during NHL Green Week, there’s one kind of fuel we can’t risk losing: food. It gives us energy to keep going, yet so many go hungry right here in our own city.
For the past six years the NHL’s Rock and Wrap It Up program has been helping feed those who have a hard time feeding themselves.
“We’ve contributed almost 28,000 meals to the Edmonton community that’s served by the Edmonton Food Bank… all food that, in the past, was going to waste,” said Tom Cornwall, Vice President of Facilities and Operations for Oilers Entertainment Group (OEG).
The program is put on by the NHL meaning all 30 team venues participate in Rock and Wrap It Up during the hockey season. Here at home, it’s a partnership between OEG, Northlands, the Edmonton Food Bank and Dominion Sports Service (DSS), Rexall Place’s concession provider.
“[Rexall Place] is one of the largest, I’ll say we’re in the top 5 in the NHL for donations,” added Cornwall.
The concept is quite simple, all the food at the venue that is prepared but not purchased is donated to the Edmonton Food Bank.
“We’re not talking a half-eaten hot dog, no no no… If they pulled 100 hot dogs and only used 50 of them, the other 50 in years past would end up in the trash, so it’s definitely edible food,” explained Cornwall.
Saving room in the landfill, and helping fuel our community. You could imagine that’s a big win in the ‘eyes’ of NHL Green Week.
“We’re able to provide beautiful quality food to people in need, we’re getting everything from pork chops to steaks,” said Tamisan Bencz-Knight with the Edmonton Food Bank. “It’s supporting people in our own city.”
The meals are given to different agencies in the city like Hope Mission, a not-for-profit Christian social care agency caring for the homeless.
Bencz-Knight says this program is a key player in a much bigger equation. The need for food is far greater now than in years past with the uncertain economy. The Edmonton Food Bank is serving close to 20,000 people a month through its hamper program, and distributing 500,000 meals and snacks every month.
“We won’t say no [to food]” Bencz-Knight said laughing.
The Rock and Wrap It Up program contributes between six and eight-thousand pounds of food each hockey season. Last year 7,400 pounds was donated, equating to nearly 6,000 meals; they’re on track to donate around the same this year. Since 2010, around 35,000 pounds has been collected.
The program will continue when the Oilers move over to Rogers Place. A bigger venue means more donations for the Food Bank.
“We have more concession stands and more catering opportunities with more places to serve food,” said Cornwall.
For Bencz-Knight, well, that’s just peachy.
“To have the continued support of guaranteed food coming in, is something we’re truly appreciative for, so thank you!”
The first NHL Green Week takes place from March 12 to 18 as a way to encourage others to protect our planet. In addition to Rock and Wrap It Up, the league, clubs, players and fans strive to reduce our impact on the environment.
For more information on NHL Green Week, CLICK HERE.