In one year the Friends In Need Food Bank’s perishable food recovery facility has received hundreds of thousands of kilograms of food that has been sorted and distributed to those in need in the community.
By the end of May, a total of 474,106 kilograms of perishable food – which would have otherwise gone to waste – was sorted and distributed from the facility that opened its doors in June 2019, said Friends In Need Food Bank executive director Mary Robson.
About 54 per cent of the food was distributed to clients of the Friends in Need Food Bank.
Local charities received more than 70,000 kg.
And, the balance, was distributed to local farmers who received about 32 per cent of it for farm feed and 13 per cent was used for compost. FoodMesh, a food exchange network that provides apps and services for charities and food businesses to divert surplus food from the landfill, calculates that 900,801 kg of carbon dioxide emissions was saved.
The perishable food recovery program (PFRP) was started in September 2017, to get surplus perishable foods available in the community to those relying on the food bank that services Maple Ridge and Pitt Meadows.
The pilot project was kicked off with the Shoppers Drug Mart, at the corner of 224th Street and Dewdney Trunk Road, as the first test site. It was soon expanded to Meridian Meats, Thrifty Foods, and Walmart.
Save-On-Foods began donating to the program when the perishable food facility opened up last year and, with four stores in the community, it is now the main contributor.
“These companies are the driving force in the PFRP because they choose to give food – not fit for sale – a second chance instead of sending it to the landfills,” Robson said.
About 40 per cent of food in Canada ends up in the waste stream, noted Robson. Yet, she said, there is food still fit for human consumption.
Robson admits that when the facility opened, she, along with the Friends In Need Food Bank board of directors, had nightmares about how they would handle the anticipated volume of food.
“Our nightmares were replaced with badges of pride for what our staff and volunteers have accomplished in handling that volume of food, working seven days a week, every day of the year except Christmas,” she said.
Karen Osborne, manager of the perishable food recovery facility, is really happy that farmers are involved in the program, because, she said, it is providing financial relief to them and a natural diet for their animals that they can obtain at no cost.
Robson credited Food Banks B.C. and its award-winning guide, which was distributed in 2017 about how to set up a perishable food recovery program, along with numerous grants they received and community donors, as a key to the local program’s success.
FoodMesh CEO, Jessica Regan, congratulated the local food bank and grocers on their one-year milestone.
“We are truly delighted to support Friends in Need’s mission to get fresh food to those who need it,” she said.