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Rescued Food Market opens in Vancouver

‘Pay what you feel’ store aims to reduce stigma around food insecurity

Vancouverites in need can now get their hands on fresh foods that would otherwise go to waste.

Food Stash Foundation, a food rescue charity, has launched the Rescued Food Market at Olympic Village in Vancouver. The group rescues 70,000 pounds of food from landfill every month and then redistributes to 30 other food organizations. It also delivers weekly food boxes to more than 100 local families in need.

The Rescued Food Market will stock perishable foods including produce, meat, cheese, milk and eggs. The surplus food comes from grocery stores, wholesalers and farms. It will be open every Friday (starting Oct. 1) from 3:30 p.m. to 6 p.m. The Rescued Food Market operates on a “pay what you feel” model, encouraging everyone to shop whether or not they donate money to help keep the market going.

With Food Stash Foundation’s other programs, “you either need to be a member of our food box program or a beneficiary of another food program from one of our partner organizations,” says Carla Pellegrini, executive director of Food Stash Foundation. “So, opening a public-facing market where it’s pay what you feel and there is no obligation to pay and no shame in not paying anything is just a low-barrier way for us to get our food out there to the people who really need it.”

The market will also serve as an educational opportunity for visitors to gain a sense of how much food is wasted in Canada. According to Second Harvest, nearly 60% of food produced in Canada—amounting to 35.5 million metric tonnes—is lost and wasted annually. Of that, 32%— equalling 11.2 million metric tonnes of lost food—is edible food that could be redirected to support people in need.

READ: Where are grocers in the war on food waste?

“It’s a rescued food market so people will want to understand what [that means],” says Pellegrini. “The food is really high quality and it is perfectly edible, so I think there will be a lot of natural points for conversations around where this food is coming from and how much food is being wasted in Canada and specifically in Vancouver. As people pass through the market and see the quality of this food, they’ll realize it was destined for the landfill if we weren’t there to rescue it.”

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