KPU awards honorary degree to Save-On-Foods’ Darrell Jones

Wed, Sep 27, 2017

When a massive windstorm knocked out power to the Surrey Food Bank in 2015 and caused 10,000 pounds of food to spoil, the food bank’s clients did not go hungry.

Not only was the food replenished by Save-On-Foods, but company president Darrell Jones and a team of company volunteers arrived to help distribute the extra food.

“Mr. Jones and the Save-On-Foods team were the first to come to our aid and replaced the lost product and donated even more so that the food bank was able to provide emergency aid to those affected by the storms,” recalls Feezah Jaffer, associate executive director of the Surrey Food Bank.

Most people know Jones as the affable “Save-On-Foods guy” from the television commercials. But the South Surrey resident is also a successful business leader who combines his passion for the retail grocery industry with a commitment to support local food banks and the residents they serve. Jones’s philanthropy has touched the lives of thousands in Surrey, White Rock and North Delta.

“He has a spirit of philanthropy and a commitment to his community in equal measure,” notes Dr. Alan Davis, president and vice-chancellor of Kwantlen Polytechnic University (KPU).

KPU will present Jones with an honorary degree at its fall convocation ceremony Oct. 5 in recognition of the many ways in which he supports his community. 

As president of Save-On-Foods and its parent company, the Overwaitea Food Group (OFG), Jones has overseen the largest expansion in the company’s 102-year history.

Originally from Cranbrook, Jones joined OFG as a bagging clerk while still in high school, and has remained with the company for more than 40 years, working at 20 different stores as clerk, senior clerk, grocery manager, assistant store manager and store manager.

He supported his local community everywhere he has worked. Jones was appointed to the board of directors of BC Children’s Hospital Foundation in 2016 and he continues to serve that organization. Locally, his unwavering commitment to local food banks has had an enormous impact on vulnerable residents in Surrey, White Rock and North Delta.

Through contributions from Save-on-Foods and Overwaitea Foods, the Surrey Food Bank has received donations of thousands of dollars and thousands of pounds of food, which help the food bank provide for the 14,000 clients it sees every month. Jones has also worked with the food bank personally, advising the management team on logistical issues.

Over the past year, Jones has also been a key partner with Rotary clubs in South Surrey and White Rock in developing a gift card program with Save-On-Foods that has seen over $68,000 raised for the Sources Food Bank, which distributes food to over 600 families every week. Save-On-Foods provides the gift cards to the program at an eight per cent discount.

“The ability to put food on the table — it’s something thousands of people can’t do without help from food banks and community-minded good citizens like Darrell,” notes Davis. 

“At Save-On-Foods, we’re deeply committed to supporting the communities we serve, because we live here too,” says Jones. “Finding ways to partner with organizations who, like us, are committed to giving people a hand up, rather than just simply a hand out, makes all kinds of sense to us. This is especially true when it comes to helping ensure that our vulnerable populations — particularly children — have access to safe, nutritious food. Simply put, it’s the right thing to do.”

Honorary degrees are awarded to those honoris causa in recognition of dignified achievements or outstanding service to the public. Members of the university community and the community at large are invited to nominate candidates. Nominees are exceptionally distinguished scholars, creative artists, public servants, prominent people in the community and the professions, and others who have made significant contributions locally, nationally or globally.

Story by Corry Anderson-Fennell

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