To The Rescue Of Food! Tackling Hunger in BC
A box of groceries made up of rescued food (photo: Food Stash)
You & Me BC
December 5th, 2021
On October 1st, Vancouver’s first food rescue market opened, welcoming everyone on a pay what you feel basis, regardless of income. A space to celebrate food and promote an equitable circular economy, the market is run by Food Stash, a Vancouver organization dedicated to
We talked with Food Stash’s Maddie Hague about the shocking amount of food Canada wastes and how
What is food rescue?
Maddie: Food rescue is rescuing or recovering any food that would go otherwise go to waste that is still good or usable. We pick it up and give it another purpose, whether that’s to be eaten by people or used as animal feed.
In terms of how much food we rescue, we average around 70,000 pounds a month, and that can feed a lot of people! We have many community partners, non-profits which support underprivileged persons, and they rely on the rescued food to feed the people they work with.
Community fridge and food rescue market (photo: Food Stash)
Where does the food come from and where does it go?
Maddie: We rescue all perishables—frozen meats, milk, eggs, yogurt, and cheese, produce, and sometimes breads and baked goods.
We’ll grab whatever we can get that’s still in good condition and don’t force any diet or item on anyone.
Our partners and members can choose what they want from our stash of food, and if we’re left with something at end of day, we’ll put it on our food rescue app so others can take it.
We traditionally partner with larger scales stores, like Stong's to give one example, but increasingly are diversifying our sources, as there’s food to be rescued from so many places. We also receive food from farms, especially in the summer.
DID YOU KNOW: 58 percent of Canadian produced food goes to waste
What are the standards for what is still edible?
Maddie: We classify items using different tiers of quality.
We maintain a rescued food box that we use to supply people with weekly groceries. This food will be among the highest quality.
But some places don’t care if there’s a little spot of mold on onion or bruising on an apple. They can just cut it off and use it that day to cook up a good meal.
We follow the Second Harvest timetable in terms of when still save to consume food - some foods like canned fruits or certain baked goods can be consumed up to a year after their best before date, while others have a much shorter window for consumption.
Rescued food being sorted and then delivered (photos: Food Stash)
What are the biggest obstacles to food security in BC?
Maddie: Financial and geographic barriers are two big ones.
If you live in a food desert where you don’t have access to good, fresh food, and only have a 7-11 where nearly everything is processed food, it’s nearly impossible to have a healthy diet.
Unfortunately, unhealthy food is more affordable, so it’s often what people who are struggling financially live on, and of course being able to afford any food is a problem when people live in poverty.
DID YOU KNOW: 1 in 7 Canadians experience food insecurity
What needs to be done to increase food security?
Maddie: Food Secure Canada put together a very comprehensive list of recommendations which I think is a great guide to use.
We need to establish a universal livable income so that people can afford healthy in the first place.
This must be complemented by the building of resilient ecological food systems, support for Indigenous food sovereignty, and in general making sure that everyone has a place at the table when it comes to food policy.
For more on food rescue and the services Food Stash provides, visit www.foodstash.ca
To get in touch with Spencer van Vloten, editor of You & Me BC, please send an email to firstname.lastname@example.org