Food waste is a problem businesses and the government are starting to look at as a serious environmental hazard and drain on the economy.
One program that has seen success in southern Ontario is being welcomed with enthusiasm in Sudbury to help businesses and individuals donate excess food and keep it out of landfills.
Food Rescue was introduced to dozens of people at a special conference at College Boreal on March 27 as a way for donors and recipients to find each other and get still edible food to people and organizations in need. It included a panel discussion about current distribution systems in the region, how they worked and what could be done to improve it, how the new system will work and who could benefit from it.
Diverting food away from landfills served many purposes, said emcee Angele Young, regional manager of Sudbury/Manitoulin Student Nutrition. Among them are reducing greenhouse gasses and landfill waste, as well as giving communities food security.
The conference started with a breakfast made from rescued food, and a short video showing the amount of time and energy put into growing, transporting and storing food, only to have some of it thrown out.
"To see the impact food has on our environment, to follow this journey is an eye-opener," Young said. "We are all seeing this in our lives. To reduce this, in any way we can, will ultimately save resources."
The impact on the environment was exemplified during the panel discussion with Lori Nikkei of Food Rescue, who is also the director of programs and partnerships at Second Harvest. She said right now there is more than enough food to feed every human in the world, but in Ontario alone, about 3 billion tonnes of produced food never gets eaten, with 60 per cent of that going into the landfill. That produces methane gas, a direct contributor to climate change.
That also equates to $31 million in food across the supply chain.
While people can help by planning their shopping and not overbuying, she said they can divert food away from the landfills with options like composting, biogas, feeding to livestock, and now sorting and getting still-good food to people who need it.
"At the very end is the landfill, and it should never hit the landfill," Nikkei said. "It's just not good for anybody."
The new system is online now. People can log on, register as a donor or a recipient, and follow a list of what kinds of food are being donated or are available, how much by weight, who is...