#YYJ Food Waste Heroes
This post published on October 8, 2014
Encore Communications specialist Marylou Wakefield has been helping to Connect the Docs with OPEN CINEMA’s social media engagement team for a couple of years now. She was so inspired by JUST EAT IT, our Season 12 launch on November 19, she took it upon herself to do some local research.
Food Waste Heroes in Victoria, BC
After watching the award-winning documentary JUST EAT IT and learning that we throw away over 40% of our food, I was inspired to find out what’s being done in our community to reduce food waste. I started by asking a few grocery stores in Victoria what they do to address food waste. Turns out, there’s a surprising number of ways they divert expired packaged food, dairy products, and produce through discounting, composting, and donating programs.
The Root Cellar for example, discounts ripe and slightly overripe produce for quick sale. The same goes for select packaged products that are close to their expiry date. Produce that is beyond ripe is sent to the compost and picked up. Bread and other bakery items are donated to Rainbow Kitchens.
Thrifty Foods sells fresh produce largely from local producers which helps reduce waste because it doesn’t have far to travel. They have a Vendor Recovery Program for dairy producers (Island Farms for example) who pick up products past their ‘best before date’ and recycle them. Overripe produce is composted and picked up and bread is donated to a variety of food banks and non-profits in the city.
At Save-on-Foods, ripe fruit is cut up and sold as fresh-cut fruit and they donate expired bakery items to The Mustard Seed on a daily basis. At the Market on Millstream, ripe produce goes directly to their in-house deli. Tomatoes go into making soups and sauces, bananas are turned into banana bread and other produce goes into making salads, dips etc. Food in damaged packaging is donated to a local food bank.
At Pepper’s some dairy items close to their expiry date are discounted and sold, others are donated to farmers. They too return expired dairy items for a refund, discount certain imperfect produce items and donate bakery items to food banks.
In a typical year, the Mustard Seed is the recipient of about $6 -8 million worth of food from all sources including individuals, organizations, grocery stores and the BC Sharing Program. They augment that with fresh meat and organic produce from their 36-acre Hope Farm in Duncan, for a total of about 2,000 tons of food per month which helps to feed 4 – 5000 people every month.
Everyone I spoke to, whether they manage an in-store program that diverts food by discounting, composting or donating, or are the recipient of donated food, were very proud of the part they play in helping our community reduce food waste and put it in the hands of people who really need it.
Marylou Wakefield, Encore Communications.
Who are YOUR food waste heroes?
There are many other examples of food waste management programs in Victoria and we’d love to hear about them! There are also several food rescue organizations in Victoria, some of whom will be participating in our November 19 event: ReFUSE Resource Recovery, Compost Education Centre, LifeCycles and others.
Each one of us can contribute to this food waste story if we start making small changes at home and ask our food service providers about their food waste practices. Please tell us about YOUR food waste heroes!