A Victoria food bank is teaming up with a local grocery chain to “rescue” food that doesn’t sell and get it to people in need.

The Food Rescue Distribution Centre, a combined effort between the Mustard Seed and Thrifty Foods, opened in Esquimalt Thursday.

The program will collect more than 4,000 pounds of food every day that would usually go to waste, like discoloured or bruised produce and dairy products just past the best before date.

“This apple here represents a gorgeous delicious nutritious apple, but if I turn it around, the blemish on it represents an unsaleable apple, because most of our customers don’t wish to buy that apple,” said Ralf Mundel of Thrifty Foods. “So generally what we’d do at Thrifty Foods is we would take that apple off the shelf and compost it. Now with the food rescue project, we’re able to take that apple off the shelf and redistribute it to those in our community who are hungry.”

The food will come from all nine Thrifty’s stores in the lower Capital Regional District.

Mustard Seed trucks will pick it up each morning and transport it to the food rescue centre where it will be cleaned, packed and delivered to food banks and meal programs across Greater Victoria.

“What this allows us to do with a larger facility, a larger refrigeration, a larger freezer, is to make sure the best, most sustainable, healthiest food ends up on the tables of those that are hungry and in need,” said Mustard Seed’s executive director Bruce Curtiss.

There are an estimated 50,000 people on southern Vancouver Island who do not have consistent access to food, according to the group.