How Food Banks Help the Environment

The Issue
With the staggering levels of food insecurity in our country it’s hard to fathom good food going to waste yet every year billions of dolllars of quality excess food is wasted throughout all levels of the food chain – from farmers, producers and processors, to retailers and households. 

This is difficult to grasp especially given the number of people in need in Canada, but wasted food also creates an incredible burden on the environment. Methane gas, the organic matter that is created in landfills is 25 times more damaging to the environment than carbon dioxide. Just imagine, by simply decreasing the amount of healthy and edible food going to the landfill, we can strive for improvements in our environment! 

What’s Happening Now
Attention to this important issue is gaining traction. In France for example, supermarkets are now mandated by law to donate all quality surplus food that has not been sold, to local food banks and charitable food agencies. In Canada, local supermarkets across the country are starting to sell imperfect fruits and vegetables at discounted prices as consumers start to realize that an apple doesn’t need to be perfectly round to maintain its nutritious benefits. 

National organizations such as the National Zero Waste Council, of which Food Banks Canada is a member, have published national guidelines on reducing waste and recovering food in Canada to help industry and recipient organizations learn how they can divert more food away from the waste stream. 

Food Banks are a Part of the Solution
Producers, manufacturers and retailers have all increased their attention to wasteful processes across the supply chain and are changing how they do business in their efforts to reduce the amount of surplus food going to landfill. 

An essential part of this strategy is food banks. 

Nationally, Food Banks Canada works with corporate partners to acquire and share safe, nutritious surplus product through our National Food Sharing System. This program accepts and secures surplus food donations to be shared our food bank network across the country. We have been able to distribute 12.6 million pounds of food each year across our network. 

Through the Retail Food Program, Loblaw Companies Limited and Walmart Canada stores are working with local community food banks to provide safe, quality food including fresh, frozen, non-perishable and consumer goods. 

Collectively, food banks across the country share more than 200 million pounds of safe, surplus product every year. 

These partnerships help to ensure that quality surplus food is no longer going to waste and provide access to quality food to those in need. To find out more about how your company can reduce its environmental impact while providing essential food products to Canadians in need, contact Lisa Wernham, Director of National Food Sharing (