May 18, 2022

Partnership between Wood Buffalo Food Bank, Save On Foods and agricultural groups aims to reduce food waste

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The Wood Buffalo Food Bank and local Save On Foods stores have partnered in a program that will see more food either go to the food bank or be sent to farmers.

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The two organizations have partnered with the Loop program, which acts as a liaison between farmers, food banks and grocery stores. Foods that Save On Foods cannot sell will go to the food bank if the organization can take those items. Any groceries that the food bank and stores can’t get rid of will become compost or pet food.

“The Loop program will provide our food bank with the communication tools necessary to ensure that no usable piece of food goes to landfill,” Wood Buffalo Food Bank warehouse manager Colin Samson said in a statement. .

The three Save On Foods locations in Fort McMurray are the latest to partner with Loop. The local partnership involves 11 local agricultural groups. Jaime White, project manager at Loop, said that number is low compared to other rural partnerships, but even with a small farming community in the area, there is still scope to expand the program locally.

“We work best with hobby farms, farms and small growers,” he said in an interview. “We start to be less beneficial to you when you have a larger operation because you need food on a large scale. This is really difficult to achieve in the Wood Buffalo area due to transportation costs, weather conditions and land values ​​as a measure of soil quality is low.

Dan Edwards, executive director of the food bank, said his group is good at telling donors what items can and cannot be used. He estimates that the organization typically throws away half a percent of donated food each year, mostly because it’s expired or the packaging is damaged.

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“If I can send something anywhere it’s used rather than just thrown away, that’s the point,” Edwards said in an interview. “You want things to be reused and recycled or put to better use, rather than just dumped in landfills.”

Food waste is also an issue for many other food banks and grocery stores. On average, White said half of what a typical Canadian grocery store throws away each month is safe to eat. Most of the rest can be composted or fed to farm animals. About two percent of groceries cannot be composted.

A 2021 study from Simon Fraser University found that 35.5 million metric tons of food are lost or wasted each year in Canada, or 58% of the food produced domestically. This is costing the economy $49.5 billion.

These issues are structural in the global supply chain, but White said consumers can reduce the amount of their own groceries thrown away by being more mindful of what they’re buying.

“It’s happening right now because of higher costs, but no matter how it happens, it’s always good news for the environment. We start to invest more consciously in the things we enjoy,” White said. “The solutions are very small and very local. Grow food and eat locally if you can, invest in sustainable systems that are not dependent on global supply chains.

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