Food Recovery Revolution
By Stephanie Shulhan in Donation on March 23, 2021
Fresh fruits and vegetables are essential for everyone, and especially for underserved communities facing barriers to accessing healthy foods. Many of the people we serve at the Richmond Food Bank are dealing with health issues or caring for dependents with health concerns. In addition, many of those using the food bank are children (about 27%) and many are seniors (about 17%). Having a variety of fresh produce to choose from when they visit the food bank helps them to maintain their good health, and to fulfill their potential.
The Richmond Food Recovery Network was founded in 2019 as a partnership between the City of Richmond and food re-distribution organization FoodMesh. Aiming to reduce food waste and food insecurity, the network redirects unsold foods to those in need through local organizations and charities.
Wasting food means wasting the resources used to grow, produce and distribute that food. You may be shocked to learn that about 49 billion dollars worth of food is wasted annually in Canada, and that most of this waste is preventable.* By weight, most of the food wasted is fruit and vegetables. The equivalent 9.8 million tonnes of carbon from this annual food waste is like 2.1 million cars on the road.**
To take part in the Richmond Food Recovery Network, businesses and farmers can donate any unsold or unsellable food items to community-serving organizations and charities like the Richmond Food Bank Society to distribute to those they serve.
Impacts to date
The positive results of the initiative so far have been uplifting: Since joining FoodMesh in 2017, the Richmond Food Bank has seen a sizable increase in the amount of fresh produce, frozen meat, and other perishable foods. Thanks to our partnership with FoodMesh, we can offer our clients a bigger variety of fresh produce, dairy products and alternatives, and frozen meat and substitutes – to name a few examples – along with the more ‘conventional’ non-perishable canned and packaged food staples.
The Richmond Food Recovery Network was recently awarded the 2021 Community Project Award by British Columbia Economic Development Association (BCEDA) for their incredible impact in fighting food insecurity. Since its launch in November 2019, more than 644,000 meals have been provided to Richmond residents in need. This far exceeds the initial goal of 300,000 meals.
The benefit of this food recovery program extend even further; The food bank is connected with farmers in need of animal feed and compost. Any food that is lower quality or unfit for human consumption is passed on to farmers to use as animal feed and fertilizer. This keeps organic waste out of the landfills, and provides a much-needed resource to our local farmers.
To read more about the impact of the Richmond Food Recovery Network in 2021, check out some of the following articles:
Food quality is crucial
In addition to participating in food recovery and rescue efforts, the Richmond Food Bank also purchases certain items like protein-rich foods, dairy and substitutes, and much-needed foods that are not donated in sufficient quantities year-round. This lets us offer high-quality and nutritionally balanced groceries consistently, with fewer seasonal or periodic fluctuations.
Monetary donations are crucial for our operations and programs to run smoothly, so that we can serve the 1300 people who use our grocery distribution services in a typical week, and the additional ~800 people benefitting from our other programs and community partner connections.
The Richmond Food Bank is a registered charity that is not funded by the government. We are a hub supporting community food services across Richmond. To donate, please visit our Canada Helps page and Donate Now.
Thank you for helping our neighbours in need!
Please consider donating your excess, good-quality fresh or frozen fruits and vegetables to the Richmond Food Bank. You may be eligible for an income tax credit. You can join FoodMesh, or contact the Richmond Food Bank directly for more information.
Do your fruit trees produce more than you can use?
To get help harvesting fruit from your tree(s), please contact the Richmond Food Security Society and find out about their Fruit Recovery Program.
Thank you to Kara Ma (Canada Summer Jobs seasonal staff team member) for authoring this blog post.