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New initiative allows surplus food to be distributed to vulnerable Canadians

Investment from the Canadian government brings aid organisations together to provide surplus food to people in need.

18 August 2020, at 10:57am

The Honourable Marie-Claude Bibeau, Minister of Agriculture and Agri-Food, has announced details of the first-ever federal government programme that will provide millions of pounds of quality, nutritious, surplus food to Canada’s most vulnerable populations.

In a statement to the media, she said:

“This is a win-win. Not only are we helping producers who cannot sell their goods to restaurants, but we are also aiding Canadians that have had to seek help from food banks. These eight impressive partnerships between food businesses and not-for-profit organisations, target those food commodities that had significant and urgent surpluses, making a difference both at the level of the producer and the food bank, from coast-to-coast-to-coast.”

The innovative Surplus Food Rescue Programme is a $50-million federal initiative designed to address urgent, high volume, highly perishable surplus products falling under fruit, vegetables, meat and fish and seafood. These surpluses were created because the COVID-19 pandemic largely shut down the restaurant and hospitality industry, leaving many producers without a key market for their food commodities.

The Programme awarded contributions to eight organisations that leverage existing food redistribution and recovery networks and agencies, who will bring the food to every region in the country. Partners, which include leading not-for-profits Food Banks Canada and Second Harvest, and La Tablée des Chefs, will redistribute products such as potatoes, walleye, chicken, turkey, eggs, and more. In total, the programme will redistribute approximately 12 million kilograms of surplus food to more food insecure families that would otherwise have been wasted.

Chis Hatch, CEO of Food Banks Canada said:

“We are very grateful for this investment by the federal government. It leverages the deep supply chain expertise and knowledge the food banking network has, thereby helping those in Canada experiencing food insecurity in the most efficient manner. We are thankful for the opportunity to build deeper partnerships within the agri-food system as well as helping ensure that highly nutritious, available food feeds people in need and that these resources are stewarded responsibly.”

For over 30 years, Nutri-Group and its partner producers have been providing consumers in Canada with high-quality sustainable eggs, while helping farmers build stronger businesses and rural communities. Through the Surplus Food Rescue Programme, Nutri Group will be providing Food Banks Canada and Second Harvest more than 1 million dozen eggs at cost to ensure Canadians continue to receive fresh, nutritious food during the pandemic. The eggs will be redistributed to many food banks and local food organisations across Canada, notably across the network of moissons in Quebec.

The significant disruptions to Canada’s restaurant and hospitality industry caused by COVID-19 has left many producers with surplus food and no way to get it onto the plates of Canadians. The eight partnerships announced which involve over 100 different organisations will help farmers meet the needs of vulnerable Canadians and recover the cost of their efforts.

The funding provided under the Programme is ensuring producers and food processors like Nutri Group are fairly compensated for their work at the cost of production, while growing relationships with community food providers and supporting efforts to reduce food waste.

Serge Lefebvre, President of Nutri Group and egg producer in Montérégie, Québec said:

“As a producer-owned company with a presence across the country, we are committed to making eggs available to all Canadian families, the production of which meets the highest standards of quality and animal welfare. The Nutri Group feels challenged in the present context where more families are using food banks and these organisations are struggling to meet demand. As the implementation of this assistance programme begins, we would like to salute the measures taken by the federal government, which proposes promising solutions to meet the needs expressed by vulnerable families and to resolve various issues raised within our poultry industry.”