Montreal-based food bank Moisson Montréal says it food recovery program with supermarkets is being extended across Quebec and will almost quadruple in size by 2017.
The organization expects to have about 210 supermarkets participating in the program by March 2017, “which is quite a figure,” says Julie Bourbonnière, director of communications and marketing at Moisson Montréal. At of the end of March, there were 60 participating supermarkets.
Currently Metro and Loblaw and their banners are participating in the program and Moisson Montréal is in talks with Sobeys’ IGA banner.
Bourbonnière says the program is the first of its kind in Canada, in that it collects meat as well as baked goods, fruits and vegetables and varied products and frozen items.
“Most programs don’t include meat. It’s because of all the traceability aspects of it,” she says. However, she says processes are in place to assure meat can be used safely and be traced back to their stores of origin. In addition, “there’s lots of legal issues with giving away meat” and agreements are in place with participating stores.
The program launched in 2013 with Loblaw and Maxi stores. In May, Metro joined the program and expects to have 65 Montreal-area Metro and Super C stores participating by the fall.
Since its launch, the food recovery program has generated savings of $4.2 million for community organizations that run soup kitchens, cafeterias, shelters, etc. It has recovered 534 tons of total foodstuffs, including 197 tons of meat, 148 tons of varied products and frozen items, 137 tons of baked goods and 52 tons of fruits and vegetables.
Food that is given away by grocers has reached or is about to reach its best before date. The food is put on freezers and is collected twice weekly in refrigerated trucks.
“It’s good food. It’s just by the industry standards it has to be thrown away,” Bourbonnière says.
At the moment, the program operates in Montreal and its South Shore, Eastern Townships and Quebec City and is just getting underway in Sept-Îles.
Outside of Montreal, the program is overseen by Moisson Montreal and involves regional Moissons and other members of Quebec’s food bank association.