FOOD RECOVERY & ENVIRONMENT
There is enough food in Canada that no one should face hunger.
Each year, millions of tons of surplus edible food Products in Canada. Recovering this product allows it to be distributed to those in need across Canada, while diverting it from landfills.
“Our Food Recovery Program allows grocery stores to drastically reduce their waste, as we compost anything unusable, or donate it to farmers, which provides farmers savings in their livestock feed. These farmers give back to us through volunteering or by sharing some of their product”
In 2021191M lbs of food was recovered by the food banking network.
FBC’s Retail Food Program rescued 19M lbs of food last year with partnerships with over 650 retail stores
Food Banks Canada programs address food recovery in three ways:
Every year, food banks in Canada strive to ensure that individuals experiencing food insecurity are provided with fresh and nutritious food where and when they need it most. With the abundance of choices on the shelves of your local grocer, accessibility to these items may appear relatively easy. However, with the increasing cost of living, you’ll find many individuals and families going without.
Between March 2020 and March 2022, seven million Canadians reported going hungry.
At the same time, within the food industry, there is surplus food. Each year, 3.2 million tons of surplus edible food is produced by Canada’s food industry (Grocery Business, 2022). The disparity between these two statistics is striking — this food is considered surplus (or waste) for a variety of reasons, including packaging changes, damaged exterior packaging, nearing best before dates, and over-shipment. This food is of good quality and safe to eat.
Food Banks Canada has been able to leverage this unique gap, and work with key partners to support communities through the Retail Food Program, since 2012. This program pairs participating national grocery chain locations with community food banks across the country to provide a regular, ongoing supply of essential food and household items.
This program would not be possible without the ongoing partnerships and collaboration between Food Banks Canada, Loblaw Company Limited and Walmart Canada.
“As a Retail Food Program partner and as part of our journey to becoming a regenerative company, we strive to build and support stronger communities across Canada. This helps Canadians live better all while inspiring Walmart associates to give back. We’ve proudly donated millions of pounds of food to this Food Banks Canada program and together, we are making a difference,”
– Jennifer Barbazza, Manager, Sustainability at Walmart Canada.
Through this program and our partnerships with Walmart Canada and Loblaw Companies Limited, we’ve seen many successes. Most notably, in the 2021–2022 fiscal year, over 19 million pounds of food was acquired and shared with food banks across the country. With a network of nearly 5,000 communities and over 650 participating retail stores, perishable food like eggs, milk, produce, and meat were put in the hands of food bankers helping people on the ground, and stocked food bank shelves that were running low.
“Community investment is something we take seriously. Our approach works toward making a positive difference in our communities and is driven by our company purpose: Live Life Well®. Our partnership with Food Banks Canada has allowed us to match hundreds of our stores with local food banks and food agencies across Canada. This reduces waste of perishable food product and provides people facing food insecurity with healthy meals. We’re proud to help make food more accessible to those in need and work toward our commitment to ‘Feed more Families,’”
– Alain Brandon, VP, Sustainability, Social Impact and Government Relations at Loblaw Companies Limited.
The ongoing generosity of our corporate partners is appreciated by food banks across the country.
The For GOOD Foundation works with industry partners to source and transform the product at no profit and highly discounted rates into good, nutritious food that can be shared with food banks across the country. To date they have developed a variety of pantry staples such as peanut butter, rice, pasta, pasta sauce, tuna, canned legumes, and more.
“We are a group of volunteers who are transforming how food banks get nutritious food. We take manufacturing and food opportunities and use our partner network to develop high quality food at exceptional value. We deliver that food to those who need it.”
– Elliot Penner, For Good Foundation
This food is extremely valuable to the food banking network.
“The arrival of For Good Foundation products was like a godsend for us. ….. we were experiencing significant supply chain issues and were unable to source the products we needed for our food banks. The For Good Foundation products are extremely high quality and meet our nutritional needs with very low sugar and salt content.”
– Ken Canning, Food Depot Alimentaire
From staffing to the maintenance of cold chain equipment to the implementation of systems and software, many behind-the-scenes steps take place between the collection of donated food and distribution. Food Banks Canada’s HUB grants program is leading the way with innovative strategies that not only enable food banks to acquire and distribute a steady supply of food and essential items to those in need, but also help to address the root causes of food bank use in the first place.
With the support of the Enterprise Rent-A-Car Foundation, Food Banks Canada distributed 25 HUB grants totaling $2.5 million to help improve the operational efficiency of the food banking network and increase the amount of food that can safely be acquired and distributed.
Saskatchewan is the world’s largest exporter of lentils, which are an excellent source of plant-based protein and fibre. But when a grain producer in the area made a generous donation of locally grown lentils to the Regina Food Bank, CEO John Bailey says there was a capacity gap between acquiring the raw ingredients and processing them into familiar foods that would be convenient for their clients.
“There was a gap between receiving a high-quality ingredient and getting it into people’s hands for their use,” Bailey explained. To help close the gap, Food Banks Canada awarded a 2021 HUB grant to the Regina Food Bank so that staff could purchase a commercial steam kettle and prepare nutritious lentil-based meals, such as soups and stews, in bulk.
With built-in temperature controls that prevent hotspots from happening and create even heat distribution for efficient cooking, Bailey says the kettle has helped the Regina Food Bank improve the operational efficiency of its on-site kitchen and get more food out to people across the city.
“It’s really jump-started our prepared meal programs and helped us get way more food out to the community,” Bailey said, adding that the kettle has contributed to more than 10,000 meals in the first five months since it was installed.
“With nearly 10,000 neighborhood and airport branch offices worldwide, Enterprise Rent-A-Car is committed to promoting long-term growth and prosperity in the communities we serve – all of which face some level of food insecurity. But often, hunger is an issue that doesn’t get the attention it deserves. We are proud to be addressing hunger through our partnership and commitment to Food Banks Canada and making a difference in the communities where our employees live and work.”
– Enterprise Rent-A-Car Foundation
For the Regional Food Distribution Association (RFDA) in Thunder Bay, time is of the essence as they have a very limited window in which to process fresh food donations.
Tanner Harris, Food Service Manager of the RFDA explains, “In some cases, it can take up 2 or 3 days for fresh food donations to even reach us. When they finally do arrive, we must first clean, cut, and portion the food before it can be stored away. When all is said and done, we’re looking at about 24 hours from when we receive fresh food donations, to the time it’s all safely stored.”
“Back in my days as a chef, we used blast chillers. Since they bring food to a low temperature a whole lot quicker than a freezer, it seemed like the perfect solution for use. Yet for the RFDA to purchase the kind of blast chiller we needed; it would come at a cost of over $25,000—money we just didn’t have.”
That’s when the RFDA decided to apply for a Capacity Boost grant through Food Banks Canada, where The Walmart Foundation provided the funds that made this donation possible.
“Since purchasing the blast chiller, we’ve been able to reduce our processing time from several hours to just 30 minutes. Plus, the increased capacity means we’re now able to provide fresh foods to even more people in the community, which is a wonderful thing.”
With those fresh foods, Tanner hopes to inspire people to adopt healthier eating habits.
“The Walmart Foundation is pleased to support Food Banks Canada to help build capacity with trucks, additional refrigerators, and more space to get good, safe food to families in need. Investment in resources helps strengthen the charitable meal system, making it possible for food banks to accept more food from donors, whether from Walmart or any other business or organization that wants to relieve hunger in Canada.”
– Kathleen McLaughlin, Chief Sustainability Officer and President of the Walmart Foundation
HELP US SAFELY RECOVER AND SHARE