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April 2020 Archives - Riverside Natural Foods Inc.



Grocery Business: Victory’s Kitchen, partners cook up support for frontline workers

  • By Riverside Communications

Victory’s Kitchen, a custom manufacturer of frozen and fresh kettle-cooked foods, has donated tractor-trailer loads of fresh food to food banks and hospitals in Canada and in the U.S. to help support people in need and frontline healthcare workers.

Allan Kliger, president of Victory’s Kitchen, says he and his team simply want to give back to people in need.

“It’s part of being charitable at time when people really need it.”

Kliger says his initiatives began when he learned that food shelters were in dire need of masks so the company donated thousands of masks to food shelter frontline workers and then decided that his company could also help with providing food to the same shelters. During this time, he received a call from a friend and neighbour, Robert Bielak from St. Helen’s Meat Packers Ltd.

“He asked if we could do something for healthcare frontline workers. So we collaborated on this; he provided the chicken and we made the fresh food and ended up running up a full tractor trailer of two products, chicken chili and vegetarian garden and lentil soup. Our first drop-off was at Humber River Valley Hospital and then we sent the truck to Mount Sinai hospital.”

Since then the initiative has gained traction and other suppliers have come on board to provide care packages of food to frontline healthcare workers at hospitals in the Greater Toronto Area.

“We plan to continue this and circulate through all the hopsitals. Each trailer is about $50,000 worth of food. We’ve also sent a full tractor trailer of product to New York state because we do a lot of business in the U.S.  and the food is being distributed to food shelters in the New Jersey area.”

Kliger says he’ll continue his donations during this time of need. “Supplying food shelters is something I don’t want to ever end and I’m happy to do it and it’s simply part of giving back to our communities. The tractor trailers of food for frontline healthcare workers will end at some point when it won’t be necessary. Right now it’s the right thing to do and we will know with this plan has run its course. We’re all in this together and it’s important that we help in whatever way we can. This is our way of helping.”



Canadian Family: Healthier, Shelf-Stable Snacks that are Made in Canada

  • By Riverside Communications

Whether you’re planning school lunches, going on a road trip, or prepping for emergencies, having a pantry full of shelf-stable, healthy food can make you feel better mentally, physically and ethically.

Shelf-stable food, as you may have guessed, has a long shelf life.

“Shelf-stable food (sometimes ambient food) is food of a type that can be safely stored at room temperature in a sealed container,” states Wikipedia.

It can be stored for a long time, but it isn’t necessarily healthy. The ingredients (and how they’re preserved) can have a big impact on taste and nutrient retention. For example, freeze-dried fruit will retain more nutrients and flavour than heat-dehydrated fruit.

You may find it tough to find truly healthier snacks that last a long time, so we’ve gathered up a few of our favourites below. I know Canadians love to support businesses in this country, so I focused on items produced by Canadian companies.

Choose munchies that are made with love by Canadian businesses and support the Canadian economy! Most source their ingredients in Canada as well, which supports local farming and Canadian suppliers. Double the economic impact by choosing Canadian retailers to purchase these snacks from, or buy direct from the company that makes them.

Shelf-Stable Snacks that are Made in Canada


Made Good is produced by Riverside Natural Foods Ltd in Ontario. They offer a delicious line of healthy snacks that are safe for schools, gluten-free, rich in nutrients, vegan, organic, non-GMO, and minimally processed. The fruit is freeze-dried, so it’s even more tasty and nutritious. This Canadian company goes all the way, supporting their community and the environment.

Each snack contains a full serving of six vegetables, and that’s welcome news for parents of kids who don’t like most veggies. In fact, I AM one of those fussy kids and I truly like the stuff! Some of my favourites are the Strawberry Crispy Squares, Chocolate Chip Granola Bars, Good To Go Strawberry Macadamia Nut Soft-Baked Bars (Keto certified), and Apple Cinnamon Granola Minis…which I’m eating for breakfast as we speak.


Naked Snacks is located in British Columbia. They offer a range of nut and dried fruit products with the goal of making good health taste fantastic.


Fourmi Bionique Granola is located in Montreal. Grand Granola includes a range of artisinal cereals that are locally-sourced and usually organic. Try their Nutbrown grain-free granolas, certified gluten-free and non-GMO. Perfect for Paleo diets! The Foodie Mix trail mixes are available in 3 gluten-free, vegan, GMO-free and sulphite-free delicious flavors. You can also pick up ingredients to make your own blends, including organic and fair-trade chocolate chunks, sulfite-free dried berries and dry roasted nuts.


Royal Nuts offers their healthy nuts and dried fruit snacks from Ontario. Their unique process applies direct flame and hot air, never oil, resulting in perfectly-roasted nuts. They’re peanut-free, gluten-free, organic, vegan, vegetarian, Kosher, and they have no artificial flavours.


SmartSweets are manufactured in Canada, with the brand promise to use no sugar, sugar alcohols or artificial sweeteners. Their sweet treats contain 79-92% less sugar than traditional candy.


Three Farmers is a company owned by a trio of Canadian farmers, all dedicated to bringing sustainable, quality food products to consumers. Enjoy crunchy, roasted Chickpeas, Pea Pops or Crunchy Little Lentils in several mouth-watering flavours.


Viva vegetable snacks (Quebec’s Yum Yum brand) have it all with their fun shapes, light and crunchy texture, and authentic flavour. They’re made from 100% natural ingredients, including tomatoes, carrots, broccoli, spinach and potatoes, which shows up in their natural colors. They’re also cooked in canola oil, which is low in saturated fat. Choose from crispy Vegetable Triangles, Vegetable Snacks and Vegetable Sticks.


Spokes air-puffed potato snacks are made in Calgary. I became a Spokes fan the minute I popped one into my mouth, a couple of years ago. They’re puffed using hot air, not oil. Then, they’re misted with sunflower oil and seasoned with a bold range of flavours, from traditional to unique tastes. These snacks are every bit as satisfying as regular potato chips, and there’s only 40 calories in each cup!

DIY Shelf-Stable Snacks

You can also make your own shelf-stable snacks! We have directions and recipes for you in our Food Preservation Guide IV: Dehydrating Tips and Recipes.

??? What is your favourite shelf-stable snack that supports good health through natural nutrition?




Vancouver Sun: COVID-19: Hospital workers say donations make coming to work ‘a little bit easier’

  • By Riverside Communications

By Lori Culbert

Workers in a health-care facility

Workers in a health-care facility near VGH get a meal from Feed the Frontline. / PNG

Dr. Amber Galbraith and her fellow anesthesiologists at Vancouver General Hospital must insert breathing tubes down the airways of many of B.C.’s most ill COVID-19 patients, a complex medical procedure that often leaves them covered in spittle that carries the contagious virus.

“It puts us at the most risk of contamination, since we are inches away from the airway and we are generating aerosols (droplets in the air). We are doing our best with PPE, which is different layers that we put on our bodies to try to protect our skin from getting the virus spread onto it,” Galbraith said.

“But despite our best efforts we will still have contamination on our bodies when we are done this procedure.”

To try to avoid becoming infected, VGH anesthesiologists shower after each intubation of a COVID-19 patient, but as a result shampoo and soap were quickly running out in the hospital’s bathrooms. Galbraith made one phone call, to pharmacist Henry Huang who owns a Shoppers Drug Mart on Main Street in Vancouver, and that very same day was given two giant boxes of shampoo, conditioner and body wash for the staff.

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Galbraith is very grateful to Huang, who she describes as routinely philanthropic. “It is so nice to know that we have the support from our community, helping to take care of front-line workers. It really goes a long way.”

Dr. Amber Galbraith

Dr. Amber Galbraith at Vancouver General Hospital. FRANCIS GEORGIAN/PNG

Free meals have also been sent to VGH, she said, which has been invaluable for some of her colleagues.

“I know that a lot of us are spending many more hours in the hospital than we normally do and some of us are isolating ourselves from our families, depending on our risk exposures. So for some people it is very, very important and it is definitely appreciated.”

After Galbraith contacted Postmedia to praise Huang’s pharmacy for its donation, we wondered what was happening at other Metro Vancouver hospitals. It turns out that in addition to banging pots at 7 p.m. to show their appreciation and donating much-needed medical supplies, Metro Vancouver residents have shown their gratitude for health workers during the COVID-19 crisis with many other acts of kindness.

New toothbrushes, 300 pairs of SAXX underwear, bouquets of flowers, boxes of Girl Guide cookies, and La-Z-Boy chairs for staff lounges are among the items that have shown up at various hospitals.

The recipients — including medical workers, janitors, laundry staff and security guards — say the generosity has helped them through difficult days.

“It really makes coming to work feel just a little bit easier,” said Spencer Driedger, a neonatal intensive care nurse at Lions Gate Hospital.

“Every health-care worker has different stresses at home, like they are nervous of taking the virus home or they are under financial stress, so coming to work and having that extra support from the community, it means so much.”

Lions Gate Hospital ER nurses

Lions Gate Hospital ER nurses with some of the 300 pairs of SAXX underwear donated to the hospital. SUBMITTED

Driedger is in awe of the many local businesses that sent donations despite struggling financially due to COVID-19. And she said the 7 p.m. cheering is so important to her, especially on days when she is down.“There’s been highs and lows. Some days I’m really optimistic and feel the energy from the community. And then there are other days when I’m getting into that spiral of fear,” she said.“But the 7 p.m. cheer is a moment I look forward to each and every day. It’s such a powerful moment and I’ve seen so many health-care workers brought to tears. It is profoundly moving to experience all these people standing there cheering for you and showing their gratitude.”

Boy raises $4,000 for snacks

One touching example of community support at Driedger’s hospital is the thoughtfulness of nine-year-old Bear Yeung, who decided just over a week ago to spend his life savings of $70 on electrolyte drinks and healthy granola bars for the medical staff. His parents pitched in some more money, and the next day he delivered a large shipment of snacks to the North Vancouver hospital.

“I kept on thinking about how much the doctors are fighting to save lives, so they need some energy,” said Bear, a Grade 4 student at West Vancouver’s Collingwood school.

“Healthy snacks can help, so they can stay healthy and can continue doing their job well.”

Bear Yeung,

Bear Yeung, 9, with his second donation in less than a week, of healthy snacks for workers at Lions Gate Hospital. JASON PAYNE/PNG

But when his parents explained the pandemic would go on indefinitely, Bear decided to expand his charity work. In just four days, he raised $4,000 after contacting his father’s friends, phoning the CEOs of companies such as MadeGood organic bars, and through a GoFundMe page.He spoke directly to the hospital foundation to find out what snacks were most wanted by the staff, and delivered a second shipment on Wednesday. And the young boy, who has donated to the hospital even before the COVID crisis, plans to keep going.“It’s just like a war. It’s not like one day and you are done. No. It is continuous,” Bear said.

Bear is proof that there is “no age barrier” to who can donate, said Judy Savage, president of the Lions Gate Hospital Foundation.“It’s just so heartwarming to see how everybody is trying to do their little bit to help,” she said. “People who are donating cash, it’s $5, $10, all the way up to $100,000.”On the North Shore, some school PACs (parent advisory councils) donated the masks and gloves from their emergency earthquake preparedness kits. The hospital received baby monitors to help people in isolation communicate. The Sleep Shop sent five mattresses, duvets and pillows so a hospital boardroom could be turned into a makeshift bedroom for workers to nap.

Lions Gate Hospital rehab workers

Lions Gate Hospital rehab workers receive a free meal from A&W. SUBMITTED

And the Djavad Mowafaghian Foundation has offered to pay for hotel rooms for anyone at the hospital who works directly with COVID-19 patients and can’t go home.“Some of them are isolated from their families. They have older parents at home, or they have children, and they don’t want to risk — if they are carrying the virus — spreading it to their families,” Savage explained.“(This generosity) is transformational for them. I think it makes a huge difference. They are putting their lives on the line, and to know the community is behind them in this way is very, very meaningful.”

Lions Gate also received 5,000 N95 masks from Best Buy, but is still looking for more as no one knows how long the pandemic will last. “We are preparing for the worst, and every single hospital is grappling to get these supplies,” Savage said.

She also hopes that this flurry of feel-good donations will carry on, and not wane.The Lions Gate Foundation, like most others in B.C., has strict rules about how donations, especially food, can be prepared and dropped off, so donors should reach out first through the agency’s website.

Feeding the front-line workers

Two people who are increasing, not decreasing, their plans to support hospitals are Christoph Barrow and Michael Tran, the owners of Pacific Poke restaurants, who created the Feed the Frontline movement. They have raised more than $68,000 in just two weeks through a GoFundMe page, and have used the money to pay about a dozen financially stressed local restaurants to cook meals for workers at 14 health-care sites in Metro Vancouver.

Workers at St. Paul’s Hospital

Workers at St. Paul’s Hospital get a free breakfast from Feed the Frontline, an initiative started by the owners of Pacific Poke restaurants. SUBMITTED

Barrow says health workers are extremely grateful for yummy nourishment at such a difficult time.“They are scared. I’ve talked to some doctors and nurses who are living in their garages because they don’t want to contaminate their families. So we want to make sure they are fed and don’t have to worry about food.”Feed the Frontline has grown so that now roughly 250 meals per day are being delivered, and Barrow believes two dozen restaurants could soon be involved if donations from the public continue — a financial lifeline for both this initiative and for the struggling restaurants, too.

Ten volunteer drivers deliver the meals — and eight of them are nurses who help out when they are off-shift from the hospitals. Barrow didn’t ask them, but they insisted. “They say we love your program, and we get the meals in the hospitals, so we want to help on the other end.”

One VGH nurse told Barrow her co-workers are so grateful for Feed the Frontline, and also grateful to have a paycheque at a time when unemployment is so high, that they are making food-bank donations whenever they receive a free meal.“And St. Paul’s is setting up a similar program as well,” Barrow said. “That is absolutely amazing that the whole community is coming together, and when something good is happening to them they are helping someone else.”On Thursday, the B.C. Nurses’ Union said it had donated $10,000 to Food Banks BC because “nurses are grateful for the support they’ve received during the pandemic.”

Workers in the maternity department at Ridge Meadows hospital

Workers in the maternity department at Ridge Meadows hospital get treats delivered from Subway. SUBMITTED

‘Heroes Work Here’

At the Ridge Meadows Hospital Foundation, development officer Deanna Lackey is keeping a spreadsheet to ensure the flood of donations is being equally distributed among hospital staff. During an interview this week, 100 burritos had just arrived in individually wrapped containers that must be wiped down before being distributed to the staff.

“That is what is keeping them motivated, knowing that they are truly appreciated,” she said.

Telus donated 40 litres of hand sanitizer. The Maple Meadows Brewing Company has dedicated proceeds from the sales of a popular beer to the hospital foundation. Local restaurants are asking customers if they want to add one more meal to their takeout order so it can be sent to the hospital. Someone planted a giant “Heroes Work Here” sign in front of the Maple Ridge hospital.

“I’ve never experienced anything like this before,” Lackey said “People want to say thank you and do something to help.”
Ridge Meadows hospital workers.

Staff at Johnston Meier Insurance pooled their money to buy these snacks for Ridge Meadows hospital workers.

When asked what else the public can do to help hospital workers, Galbraith, the VGH anesthesiologist, said the most important thing is to stay home.

“We are doing our best in the hospitals to make sure that our staff members are protected with PPE and have the capacity to do things like shower after aerosol-generating procedures,” she said.

“But my biggest request for people in the community to help is to stay home and limit the transmission of this disease.”



NY Times: Families With Food Allergies Struggle With Bare Shelves

  • By Riverside Communications

As the coronavirus spreads and locked-down communities stock up, products needed by allergy sufferers are increasingly hard to come by.


Scant offerings at a grocery store in Brooklyn last month.Credit…Sarah Blesener for The New York Times

By Eric Athas

Like many Americans these days, Lisa M. Delmont is kept up at night by worry. But for Ms. Delmont, it’s the empty grocery store shelves that bring on dread.

Her 2-year-old son, Benjamin, is severely allergic to milk, eggs, cashews, pistachios and bananas, so she has to be judicious about the items she brings home. Exposure to the wrong food could send Benjamin into anaphylactic shock, something that has happened three times since he was born.

“I am way more terrified of taking him to an E.R. now than I’ve ever been,” said Ms. Delmont, 35, of Jacksonville, N.C.

The rush to stock up on food in response to the coronavirus pandemic has put an extra strain on the millions of Americans with food allergies who were already restricted in what they can safely eat.

Ms. Delmont, a part-time registered nurse, has gone to great lengths to find products that won’t cause a reaction, researching ingredients, emailing manufacturers and cooking meals from scratch. Without access to certain brands — Ms. Delmont said her local store was sold out of many foods — her options are more limited than ever.

For now, Benjamin will have to eat a lot of beans. “They might not be the most exciting of meals,” she said, “but they won’t kill him, either.”

Ms. Delmont isn’t the only one hunting far and wide for harmless foods.

After the pandemic began to spread in the United States, Kelley D. Lord, of Orlando, Fla., wasn’t able to find the brand of pasta she makes for her 12-year-old son, Mason, who is allergic to eggs. She asked a friend — who lives nearly 400 miles away in Columbus, Ga. — to check out a nearby shop. The friend found the pasta, confirmed it was the right one in a text message, and shipped it to Ms. Lord.

“It’s so scary when your child has an allergy, because it’s literally a life-or-death situation,” said Ms. Lord, 50, who runs a travel agency and is herself allergic to peanuts and onions. “You can’t substitute something else.”

Even before the coronavirus outbreak, grocery shopping was stressful for people with food allergies. The federal government requires companies to tell consumers when particular ingredients are used. If something is made with one of eight types of foods — milk, eggs, fish, shellfish, peanuts, wheat, soybeans and tree nuts — the company must declare it on the label.

This alerts people to potentially dangerous ingredients, but not all allergens are on that list. In addition, companies sometimes need to warn consumers about possible “cross-contact” with allergens, telling them that something “may contain” peanuts, which can create more confusion.

Alicia M. Ames, of Elbridge, N.Y., said her 4-year-old son, Jackson, is allergic to sesame, eggs, peanuts and legumes. Sesame is not part of the Food and Drug Administration’s labeling law, and its presence is sometimes hidden under obscure descriptions like “natural flavors” or “spices.”

More than one million children and adults are estimated to have a sesame allergy, and the F.D.A. is considering adding it to the list of allergens that manufacturers must include on packages.

Ms. Ames bakes her own bread, but her supplies of safe flour and yeast are running low. “Our worry is that these foods aren’t going to be available, and what are we going to feed our family?” said Ms. Ames, 32, a musician.

Her unease is shared by others across the country.

Recently, Elana D. Zimmerman put on gloves and a mask and ventured out to many grocery stores in her neighborhood on the Upper East Side of Manhattan. She did it again the next day. And the day after that. Ms. Zimmerman, 36, has a 1-year-old daughter and a 2-year-old son, both with severe allergies.

Laura C. Schorn, of Aurora, Colo., has been going to stores at various times in the day, hoping to catch a lucky break and arrive after a restock. Ms. Schorn, who has an intolerance to wheat and soy, said she has left stores crying, feeling defeated.

“My fear right now is less that I’m going to get the virus and more that if I do get it and I become quarantined, I’m not going to have enough food to get through it,” said Ms. Schorn, 25, who works as a supervisor at a restaurant chain.

On a recent Sunday, Eric J. Payne, of Hollis, Maine, found himself staring at empty store shelves. His 3-year-old son, Elijah, is allergic to dairy, egg, cashews and pistachios. Produce and meat were almost entirely gone. Flour was completely sold out.

“The hoarding is the concern for us,” said Mr. Payne, 33, a marine biologist whose wife, Kimberly, also has food allergies. “Be mindful of others. Be mindful of the allergy kids.”

Some companies that cater to people with dietary restrictions are feeling the crush of demand.

Oatly, a Swedish oat milk company that has expanded its presence in the United States in recent years, has seen purchase orders and requests from retailers “increase by orders of magnitude,” said Mike F. Messersmith, the president of Oatly’s North America operations.

To meet the surge, Mr. Messersmith said, the company has made more of its products available on its website and is keeping its facility in Millville, N.J., running during the coronavirus crisis.

Other companies said that demand has been sharply higher than usual — including MadeGood, which specializes in granola, cookies and other foods free of several allergens, and King Arthur Flour, which makes a gluten-free flour.

Lisa G. Gable, the chief executive of Food Allergy Research & Education, a nonprofit organization in McLean, Va., is concerned about the diminishing options. She is calling on shoppers to consider those with food allergies when filling their grocery carts.

“Be aware of that as you’re pulling these things off the shelves,” Ms. Gable said. “The ability to substitute food is something that keeps them alive and healthy and out of emergency rooms.”



CBC News: Seeing green: $25K for greenhouse means more fresh produce in Inuvik

  • By Riverside Communications

Grant is partnership between Community Food Centres Canada and MadeGood food company

By Mackenzie Scott


Ray Solotki, the executive director of the Inuvik Community Greenhouse, says that they’re feeling ‘a little bit lost,’ when it comes to how to ship the greenhouses to Tuktoyaktuk and Ulukhaktok. ‘There’s got to be some sort of solution. This isn’t our field.’ (Mackenzie Scott/CBC)

The Inuvik Community Greenhouse has received a $25-thousand grant that will allow the organization to provide even more fresh vegetables for residents while its doors remain closed to the public due to COVID-19.

The grant comes from Community Food Centres Canada, which recently received a donation from the food company MadeGood.

“We are able to use [the grant] to help subsidize people to get fresh food from the greenhouse,” said Ray Solotki, executive director of the community greenhouse in Inuvik.

April is usually the time when members of the community greenhouse begin filling their plots with soil. But due to the impacts of the COVID-19 pandemic, it’s going to be a very different season at the greenhouse, organizers say. It’s going to be closed to the public for the time being, but still offer options for Inuvik residents to get local produce.

Workers will grow vegetables for you

One of the new options for members of the greenhouse will let them still have plots this year without having to go to the garden and do the work.

Members can pay the greenhouse a flat amount — normally a plot costs $75, this year it’s $150 — and Solotki and her team will take it from there.

“We’ll work the plot, plant the plot and as the food is available it will be harvested and brought to your home once a week,” said Solotki.

Originally Solotki thought she would be the only employee for the greenhouse, but because of the funding they were able to hire four part-time employees that will make it possible to grow more food in the building.

Subsidizing veggie box program

The rest of the money from the grant will go toward expanding the veggie box program so even more families can have access to fresh food this year.

Solotki said they are able to fully or partially subsidize veggie boxes for families if they can’t afford it at this time.

“People confidentially can say, ‘Hey, I can’t afford this right now. What can I do?’ And I can say, ‘OK, here’s our options,'” said Solotki.

“We are a community greenhouse and we need to take care of each other.”

She said so far 25 families have signed up for veggie boxes, with eight of them subsidized. Solotki says they plan on being able to provide 50 veggie boxes this year.

It is with community support that we are able to offer options to our community.
– Ray Solotki, Inuvik community greenhouse

“Basically we are going to turn the rest of the greenhouse into a huge market-share program. So we are going to plant vegetables … and send out a questionnaire …I want people to have the food that they want to have,” said Solotki.

The greenhouse still wants to encourage people to garden, so people can also get planter gardens from the organization.

Solotki says all of this is made possible not only because of the grant, but because of the support from trucking company Manitoulin Transport.

“Manitoulin stepped up and gave us 6,000 lbs of supplies delivered for free. And they have been storing it for us for free,” said Solotki.

“It is with community support that we are able to offer options to our community members to feel a little bit more secure as to where their food is coming from.”