Government of Canada investment brings nutritious surplus food to vulnerable Canadians
From: Agriculture and Agri-Food Canada
The Surplus Food Rescue Program is a $50 million initiative which will help to support Canada’s food system, food processors, and food producers, and distributors to help ensure food availability for all Canadians.
Funding will be used to help manage and redirect existing surpluses to organizations addressing food insecurity and ensure that these surplus products are not wasted.
COVID-19 and Surplus Food
The impacts of COVID-19 have resulted in the disruptions to areas of Canada’s food system, as it forced the near closure of the restaurant and hospitality industry in Canada and the United States.
Some producers across Canada are left with surpluses of quality food, while increased demand from grocery stores alone is not expected to clear the inventory before it spoils.
Another impact of the pandemic is an increase in demand for food from food banks and other food security organizations in communities across Canada.
The Surplus Food Rescue Program will help to address these imbalances by providing new funding for the repurposing and redistribution of surplus food to vulnerable Canadians.
In ongoing consultations with industry and government stakeholders, the program was designed to address urgent, high volume, highly perishable surplus products falling under horticulture, meat and fish and seafood.
The program will ensure that the food needs of vulnerable populations in Canada will be addressed, positive relationships with community food providers will be maintained, and efforts to reduce food waste will be supported.
The Surplus Food Rescue Program has awarded contributions to organizations such as industry groups, processors, distributors, food security organizations, regional and municipal governments and agencies who:
- will acquire and move the most surplus product (and identified amount to be moved)
- use the most cost-effective approach (for acquiring food/acquiring product at or below the cost of production or through donations as applicable)
- use the most cost-effective approach for processing (only process if cannot be distributed otherwise) and at minimal cost
- are most efficient, from wholesale purchase to food serving agencies (drawing down on surplus quickly)
- make sure food reaches the most vulnerable and remote communities, especially northern communities (target of up to 10 per cent for all food under the program)
- have partnerships already established along the supply chain including food serving agencies
Approved projects under the Surplus Food Rescue Program
Approved projects under the program include:
Second Harvest – $11,007,095
Second Harvest will rescue multiple surplus commodities, and flow those foods in current and processed formats to vulnerable populations across Canada. Distribution will be done via the FoodRescue.ca online platform and mobile app to determine when and from where specific surplus foods are acquired, and ensure that the rate of distribution does not exceed the handling and storage capacity of individual food charities. The project’s scope encompasses the purchase, further processing, storage, and distribution of surplus to regional charitable partners across Canada.
Les Fermes Dani – $1,430,000
Les Fermes Dani will distribute surplus potatoes to Indigenous communities throughout their distribution network. The project’s scope encompasses the packing, transportation, storage, and distribution of surplus potatoes to communities in New Brunswick and across Canada.
Canadian Produce Marketing Association in partnership with network of charitable agencies – $11,429,926
The Canadian Produce Marketing Association will rescue multiple surplus commodities and flow those foods in current and processed formats to vulnerable populations across Canada via its network of charitable agencies and distribution and transport companies. The project’s scope encompasses the purchase, further processing, storage, and distribution of surplus to regional charitable partners across Canada.
Green Seafoods Ltd. in partnership with Feed Nova Scotia – $55,230
Green Seafoods Ltd. will purchase 24,000 lbs of vacuum-packed, cooked, frozen blue mussels. The mussels will be distributed to vulnerable populations through Feed Nova Scotia’s existing distribution network.
Food Banks Canada – $11,358,529
Food Banks Canada will rescue multiple surplus commodities and flow those foods in current and processed formats to vulnerable populations across Canada via its network of more than 3000 local food banks and community agencies. The project’s scope encompasses the purchase, further processing, storage, and distribution of surplus food to regional charitable partners across Canada.
Fisher River Cree Nation – $10,845,048
Fisher River Cree Nation will rescue up to 2.9 million pounds of freshwater fish (walleye) caught from inland lakes of Canada. Working with the Freshwater Fish Marketing Corporation, the surplus product will be distributed to more than 75 Indigenous communities throughout Manitoba, Saskatchewan and the North.
Clearwater Seafood in partnership with Membertou to Mi’kmaq communities -$1,491,072
Clearwater will purchase 150,000 pounds of surplus seafood to distribute in Indigenous communities in Nova Scotia and across Canada. The project includes the harvesting, the processing, storing, and distributing the seafood to Indigenous communities.
La Tablée des Chefs – $1,522,900
La Tablée des Chefs will recover more than 350,000 kg of surplus products to turn into meals by the network of chefs of Les Cuisines Solidaires in Quebec and in major Canadian cities, namely Calgary, Toronto, Ottawa, Vancouver and Winnipeg. The food will be redistributed to vulnerable populations through the Banques Alimentaires du Québec, Second Harvest and other organizations that feed thousands of people in need.
The Food Policy for Canada
The Surplus Food Rescue Program is an emergency measure that the government has created in response to the COVID-19 crisis, which also meets the objectives identified in the Food Policy for Canada.
The Food Policy for Canada seeks to create a healthier and more sustainable food system in Canada; one that builds on the Government’s ambitious agenda to support the growth of Canada’s farmers and food businesses.
Responsible for one in eight jobs across the country, Canada’s food sector is a powerhouse of the economy, particularly in rural communities.
The COVID-19 pandemic has put a lot of pressure on our food system. Now more than ever many vulnerable Canadians are not able to reliably access sufficient amounts of food.
In addition, before the pandemic, it was estimated that more than 11 million metric tons of food are wasted every year – worth nearly $50 billion. The pressures of the pandemic have added to this.
Office of the Minister of Agriculture and Agri-Food
Agriculture and Agri-Food Canada