A Chilliwack Food Bank worker unpacks a box of fresh strawberries that was among the six pallets of boxed produce, dairy, baked goods and more that had just arrived from Save-On-Foods. (Jennifer Feinberg/The Progress)

‘Game-changing’ program to combat food waste to expand across B.C.

Three-month pilot project in Chilliwack saw food waste redirected to make an estimated 250,000 meals

The idea is to curb food waste down to nothing — and it’s working.

In the past four months, Chilliwack has been the pilot site for a food-waste diversion project that’s being called a “game-changer.”

Save-On-Foods joined forces with Food Banks BC, FoodMesh, Loop Resource, and charities like Chilliwack Salvation Army to reach the goal of “zero surplus and potentially wasted food” ending up in the waste stream.

A lot has been accomplished.

“Every item they can’t use, we are getting it,” said Don Armstrong, coordinator of the Chilliwack Salvation Army Food Bank, picking up some fresh asparagus and packages of sushi received from Save-On.

READ MORE: University students Dumpster dive to shed light on food waste

Black Press Media stopped by the food bank last week to see how the pilot project was working, as Sally Ann volunteers and staff combed through six pallets of boxed produce, dairy, and baked goods from Save-On-Foods.

Out of a week’s worth of food, they maybe had one garbage bag full they couldn’t put to use.

“The program works fantastic,” said Armstrong, adding they can use about 90 per cent of what they have been getting, and farmers will come by every day to pick up what’s left to feed their livestock.

“People are coming in and they’re loving the stuff that we are able to give them,” said Armstrong. “We’re giving them apples, we’re giving them oranges, bananas, sandwiches, deli meats, roasts, and turkeys.”

The food-waste diversion is now operational in more than half of the 170 Save-On-Foods stores across the province, including all three in Chilliwack, where the pilot has been redirecting food in a consistent, safe, and measurable way.

The grocery chain spent the past year trying to surpass its company-wide goal to reduce food waste by 50 per cent by 2025.

“We have been composting perishable waste where possible for a number of years, but we knew we could do better,” said Darrell Jones, president of Save-On-Foods, in a release.

The idea is to eventually see the initiative rolled out in all Save-On stores across Western Canada.

“With close to 1.5 million metric tonnes valued at close to $6.4 billion dollars of surplus edible food wasted each year in B.C. and close to 100,000 individuals struggling to put food on the table, perishable food recovery with our partner, Save-On-Foods, has been a true game-changer,” said Laura Lansink, executive director of Food Banks BC.

So where is it all heading?

“What we’re hoping is that other grocery stores will see what Save-On-Foods is doing, and get on board, so we can get all this food out of the landfills,” Armstrong said.


@CHWKjourno
jfeinberg@theprogress.com

Like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter.

Just Posted

Blaze consumes dwelling in Masset

The Masset Fire Department received the first call around 8 p.m.

All Nations Driving Academy gets $360K boost from province

Terrace-based driving school bridges gap in services for remote northwest B.C. communities

Skeena Watershed reopened for recreational pink and coho

Four sections and tributaries remain closed

Skeena-Bulkley Valley candidates react to finding Trudeau broke ethics law

The election campaign is heating up before the writ has even dropped

QUIZ: How much do you remember about Woodstock?

Weekend music festival in Bethel, New York, was held 50 years ago

Advocates ‘internationalize’ the fight to free Raif Badawi from Saudi prison

Raif Badawi was arrested on June 17, 2012, and was later sentenced to 1,000 lashes and 10 years in jail for his online criticism of Saudi clerics

RCMP, search crews hunt for 4-year-old boy missing near Mackenzie

George went missing early Saturday afternoon

Canadian entrepreneurs turning beer byproduct into bread, cookies and profits

Some breweries turn to entrepreneurs looking to turn spent grain into treats for people and their pets

Canada ‘disappointed’ terror suspect’s British citizenship revoked

Jack Letts, who was dubbed “Jihadi Jack” by the U.K. media, has been detained in a Kurdish prison for about two years

Chrystia Freeland condemns violence in Hong Kong, backs right to peaceful assembly

There have been months of protests in the semi-autonomous region

B.C. VIEWS: Log exports and my other errors so far in 2019

Plastic bags, legislature overspending turn out differently

Most Read