Thursday, March 16, 2017
In what Quebec’s food banks say is a Canadian first, supermarkets in the province have started diverting, to local food banks, their unsold but edible food.
Food Banks of Quebec (FBQ) had been running a pilot project of the Supermarket Recovery Program in the Montreal and Quebec City areas since 2013, testing out whether such a system could be manageable, according to media reports.
Since the pilot project went province-wide in early 2016, food banks have collected nearly $20-million worth of groceries from 177 supermarkets, and prevented more than 2,000 tonnes of CO2-equivalent gases, the Montreal Gazette reports.
Under the program, food bank staff members collect food from supermarkets on a scheduled basis, then deliver it to a central distribution centre where it is meted out to food banks. They’ve received a $395,200 grant from Recyc-Quebec to help with their costs.
All major supermarket chains in Quebec are participating, Food Banks of Quebec says. When it’s fully running, the program will see 611 supermarkets divert an estimated eight million kilograms of food per year.
Quebec food banks receive 1.8 million requests for donations every month, according to the FBQ.
France has a similar program. Last year, the country passed a law requiring supermarkets to save unsold, edible food for charities. Any grocery store larger than 400 square metres is required to sign an agreement with a charity for its unsold food.