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Metro pilot program diverts food to the needy

Grocery chain working with sustainable food broker in Montreal

Metro officials yesterday announced a pilot project to divert excess food from some of its Montreal stores to food banks and community groups.

The grocery chain is working with La Tablée des Chefs, a sustainable food broker, to move an estimated 165 kilos of food per store each week from 12 Metro and Super C stores in the Montreal area.

“Although we always try to minimize food losses in our stores, the very nature of our activities inevitably results in some ,” Marie-Claude Bacon, Metro’s senior director of corporate affairs, said in a statement.

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The pilot will run 12 weeks. Based on the results, Metro could expand the program to other stores, Bacon said.

Food products sent to food banks will come primarily from the bakery, prepared meals, cheese and meat departments.

Metro said items would be frozen in-store as they hit their expiry date, then picked up twice a week for redistribution by two organization–the Welcome Hall Mission on the Island of Montreal and Action Nouvelle Vie on the city’s South Shore.

La Tablée des Chefs will act as the liaison between the Metro and charities to make sure food is kept properly cold during transport and distribution and that food safety rules are followed.

The organization already works with chefs, caterers and event organizers in Montreal to deliver surplus food to the needy.

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Jean-Francois Archambault, executive director and founder of La Tablée des Chefs, said the program will be an important boost to his organization’s efforts.

“There is a crying need for food assistance, which is why all of the food taken from grocery stores will wind up on the tables of families for whom this help makes a huge difference,” he said.

In addition to tacking hunger, the initiative might also help on another front: food waste. It’s estimated that 40% of all food produced in Canada gets thrown away.

A study conducted last year by the George Morris Centre in Guelph, Ont. found retail stores are responsible for 11% of Canada’s $27 billion food waste.

READ: Our biggest problem? We're wasting food

Consumers are responsible for the lion’s share (51%) while the rest is lost on farms, in restaurants, and through packaging, processing, warehousing and transport.

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