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From Plastic Bags to Potatoes: Working Towards Social Sustainability with Winnipeg Harvest

December 5, 2016

Sustainability is about meeting the needs of the present without compromising the needs of future generations to meet their own needs. One of the three pillars of sustainability, social sustainability, reminds us to ensure that through this process everyone’s needs are met. During the holiday season, it’s a good time to reflect on how we are working to meet this end, and consider what else we can do to help.

This year, we have worked on many social sustainability projects and one local organization with whom we are proud to be growing our relationship is Winnipeg Harvest. Below are some of the ways we have connected with Winnipeg Harvest this year to support social sustainability locally.

Drop off baby food, cereal and formula at C519 (NDC) until Dec 23rd at noon for Winnipeg Harvest.

Drop off baby food, cereal and formula at C519 (NDC) until Dec 23rd at noon for Winnipeg Harvest.

In a sustainable society everyone has access to basic needs like food, shelter and clothing. In Winnipeg however, almost 54,000 people rely on Winnipeg Harvest for emergency food each month. More than half of those in need are children, and over 1,600 of them are infants. This month, the Sustainability Office will be collecting baby food and formula to donate to Winnipeg Harvest to support their First Steps program. If you would like to help, you can drop off the following items to our office (NDC, C519) by noon on December 23:

  • Baby food jars of chicken, beef, vegetables or fruit
  • Infant cereal such as oatmeal, barley or rice
  • Formula with added iron (While donations of infant formula with added iron are needed, Winnipeg Harvest supports breastfeeding.)

Please also consider donating other non-perishable food items to the Student Association Food Bank. Collection bins are located at NDC: outside the SA Office (CM20)/The Ox and at EDC: at the SA Office (P110).

We collected 604 plastic bags for Winnipeg Harvest to use to deliver emergency food kits.

We collected 604 plastic bags for Winnipeg Harvest.

Winnipeg Harvest uses approximately 1 million plastic bags a year to deliver emergency food kits. So, as part of Waste Reduction Week this year, we partnered with Winnipeg Harvest and MMSM (Multi-Material Stewardship Manitoba) on their Bag it Forward program to collect used plastic bags for reuse and recycling. Due to high interest, we extended the collection period and last week dropped off 604 plastic bags (8 lbs) to Winnipeg Harvest. Due to the success of this pilot, we’re working with the Students’ Association, Winnipeg Harvest and MMSM to set up a permanent collection for used plastic bags at RRC – stay tuned!

This year, RRC participated in Winnipeg Harvest’s Grow-A-Row project for the 4th year in a row. This year, the grounds crew grew, harvested and delivered 1,032 lbs of onions; 1,555 lbs of potatoes; and 290 lbs of carrots to Winnipeg Harvest.

Certificate given to Red River College after participating in Winnipeg Harvest's Grow-A-Row program.

RRC participated in Winnipeg Harvest’s Grow-A-Row program for the 4th year in a row this year.

In 2017, we pledge to continue our work towards social sustainability, and to build and strengthen partnerships with Winnipeg Harvest and others. Here are some ways you can help:

  • Bring baby food, cereal or formula with added iron to our Office (C519) by noon on December 23rd to help with Winnipeg Harvest’s First Steps program
  • Drop off non-perishable food items to the Students’ Association Food Bank at any time
  • If you’re a gardener, consider growing an extra row for Winnipeg Harvest next year. We also need help harvesting our extra rows every fall, so stay tuned for this volunteer opportunity next year.
  • Watch for plastic bag collection bins in the new year at RRC and donate your gently-used plastic bags to help Winnipeg Harvest deliver emergency food kits (in the meantime, if you have plastic bags you can drop them off to our office (C519))
  • Donate money to Winnipeg Harvest or another cause that is near and dear to you
  • Donate time to Winnipeg Harvest or another cause that is near and dear to you
  • Spread the word through Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, IRC, text message, phone, telegram – however you communicate.