Food waste is a major problem globally on many fronts, but a Manitoba group hopes a new initiative helps keep some wasted food away from the curb.
The Brandon Food Council has opened up a food rescue grocery store. It takes good food no longer needed by community groups in the city, located about 200 kilometres west of Winnipeg, and sells it at deep discounts.
“We just had so much extra food and we wanted to make sure it was available for people,” said Olivia Boyce, chair of the council.
“We had to create kind of a new concept to get this food out to the public.”
The food council is currently taking leftover food from Everyone Eats Brandon, a pay-what-you-can meal service, and Meals on Wheels and selling it to the public at discounted prices.
Everything from produce to bread, rice and other dry goods can be on offer at any given time.
“We tackle food security as a whole,” said Boyce. “It’s more than helping people that are food insecure.
“It’s offering food at a low cost.”
Mike von Massow, a food economist the University of Geulph, said more initiatives like these can help curb food waste, if done properly.
“I think there is probably not a better time than do this than now when we all feel the pinch from rising food prices,” von Massow told CBC News. “This provides us with a really good alternative.
“The key is getting people engaged and saying the product here is good and it’s worth eating.”
A United Nations report published earlier this year found 931 million tonnes of food is wasted each year around the world.
That’s about 17 per cent of the food produced globally.
“The truth is the exact number doesn’t matter that much,” von Massow said. “The point is we should probably be wasting less than we’re wasting.
“We’re creating greenhouse gasses and other emissions from this stuff ending up in landfill. In municipalities where we’re diverting it, we’re still wasting all of the resources that went into it.”
Von Massow said reducing waste could also mean reducing the price of food at stores.
He said one of the most common misconceptions is the ‘best before’ date labelled on almost everything you buy.
“It is a processor determined date at which that product will still continue to be at its peak,” he said. “It has nothing to do with food safety.”
He said projects like Brandon’s food rescue can be tough to get off the ground sometimes, as overhead costs can be prohibitive in some places.
But both he and Boyce feel it’s a good step to reducing waste.
“It’s helping our food insecure, but we’re also keeping food out of the landfill,” said Boyce. “We’re working on sustainability and equity and making sure people are making a living wage.”
The food rescue is located at 31A 9th St. in Brandon and is open Monday, Wednesday and Friday between 5 and 7 p.m.
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