Members from the Bread of Life Soup Kitchen collect donated meats from Save-On Foods

COLUMN: Food Matters by Margo Peill

Yes, Big Food can achieve zero waste

When it comes to food, there are so many things to consider: nutrition, value, where it comes from, what goes into it, flavour and freshness.

But one consideration that often gets left out is waste. What will happen to this food if it doesn’t get eaten? Food waste reduction and diversion has become an increasingly concerning consideration for many shoppers and one local grocery store in Terrace is listening to these concerns.

Save-On-Foods in Terrace has committed to becoming a zero food-waste store, meaning they are working to divert 100% of all their unsellable food to it’s highest and best use. The grocery store has partnered up with a northern BC company called Loop Resource to be able to make this a possibility. Together, they have been using the Food Recovery Hierarchy to ensure that unsellable food is being used to its highest potential. The first tier on the hierarchy is source reduction- taking action on ways to reduce the amount of food waste in the first place. The second tier is to feed hungry people.

Currently, through food share programming, about 60 per cent of unsellable food from Save-On is being used to feed people who need it. The food that can’t feed people gets used in the third tier: to feed animals. The Loop Resources has been working with local farms to register and coordinate getting food to the farms to feed chickens, pigs, goats and other livestock. In Terrace there are 14 local farms partnered up with the program who all receive the food in its original packaging to ensure they know exactly what they are feeding their animals.

Although composting is often heralded as a great use of food scraps, industrial-scale composting systems vary widely in their effectiveness and environmental impact. That’s why, according to the Loop Resource, it’s much better to work a little harder to make the connection to hungry people and farms and divert food to a higher purpose.

In fact, that’s how the Loop Resource program came to be. Owner, Jaime White, who was raised in Smithers and later moved to Dawson Creek to start a small family farm, just wanted a way to live his values and teach his children the value of growing your own food. When he realized the cost of feeding his livestock, Jaime started talking to local restaurants to ask for their scraps to feed his animals. Not long after that, he asked the grocery store for their waste as well. They loved the idea but had to turn him down because of concerns of liability. And that’s when the Loop Resource was born!

Jaime and his team created the Loop Resource program to help build the systems and check all the boxes to make it safe for grocery stores to be able to donate their unsellable food to people and farms.

Save-On-Foods now has 57 of their stores across the west signed up with the Loop Resource program and so far, they have successfully diverted 3.3 million kilograms of food from landfills. As for the Terrace location, store manager Richard Sproul says he’s already looking forward to other ways the store can reduce waste in the near future.

This is an extremely admirable achievement and hopefully just one of many more food waste reduction and diversion projects to come in Terrace!

Margaret Peill is the Skeena Valley Farmers Market manager with a B.Sc in Health Promotion, working to improve sustainable food systems in Northwest B.C. This is one of our four new columns by local writers that explore Northwest food, music, art and mental wellness. Claudette Sandecki’s weekly Bifocals column is now in the community section.

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