Major supermarket chains in Quebec are teaming up with food banks in the province to help feed the needy and keep edible food from local landfills.
The Programme de récupération en supermarchés (Supermarket Recovery Program) is being dubbed the first of its kind in Canada and follows a pilot project launched a few years ago in Montreal and Quebec City, which yielded promising results.
A pilot project that involved 177 supermarkets was able to recover 2.5 million kilograms of food including 500,000 kilograms of meat. An additional 175 grocery stores will join the program by the end of this year, with a goal of expanding to 611 stores across the province within three years.
"It means a better quality of food (at food banks) and a consistent supply," said Annie Gauvin, executive director of Food Banks of Quebec, which deals with the 30 wholesale food banks across the province. The program would see those regional banks picking up items and distributing them to local organizations.
The Quebec government’s Recyc-Québec is providing a one-time grant of just under $400,000 to help regional food banks offset logistical costs like freezers and transportation.
Quebec’s major grocery chains -- Sobeys, Loblaws, Provigo, Maxi, Metro, Super C and IGA – are participating in the program, which aims to benefit the 400,000 people in the province including 150,000 children, who turn to food programs monthly.
The overall goal is to recover an estimated 8 million kilograms of food each year, reduce food waste and help the environment by saving the equivalent of 7,000 tonnes of greenhouse gases yearly. The province says that is the equivalent of taking about 1,500 cars off the road.