Food Stash Foundation & the Importance of Food Rescue
For most, the concept of “food rescue” is beyond common sense. Why wouldn’t we share perfectly edible food, destined for waste, with those in need? Still, millions of pounds of food are sent into landfills across our country each year, improperly mislabelled as “garbage”.
Luckily, Food Stash Foundation is doing everything they can to prevent this egregious practice from happening within our community. Every month they rescue thousands of pounds of edible food from producers and suppliers and redistribute it to food-insecure households across the Greater Vancouver area.
In just March 2019 alone, they:
- Distributed 154 rescued food boxes, containing an average of 43 lb. food each
- Redirected 13,298 lbs of food to 12 recipient organizations (charities, non-profits etc.)
- Redirected/composted 14,805 lbs of food to PEACE (People Ensuring Animal Care Exists)
- Rescued a total of 19,920 lbs of food with the help of 26 active volunteers
As full believers in this cause, we’re proud to say that Glory Juice Co. is a contributing food donation partner of Food Stash Foundation.
To help extend the conversation of food rescuing forward, we spoke with Food Stash’s Executive Director, Julia Hunter, to learn more about the foundation’s mission and gain insight on how you can help the cause.
GL: What was the motivation behind starting Food Stash?
JH: Food Stash was founded by David Schein in 2016. After watching the local documentary, Just Eat It, he was inspired to make a difference in our community by reducing food waste and the environmental footprint it creates. In its beginnings, Food Stash rescued food from suppliers around the city and redirected it to local charities, most of whom are running their own food security programs.
Eventually, Food Stash created the program now known as our Rescued Food Box Program. We started with 9 families that received a weekly box and now we are almost at 50 members, who are able to receive a weekly box full of produce (mainly) along with protein and dairy products.
Food Stash delivers the box, each carrying roughly 35 lb. of food, right to the doorsteps of our families for a nominal fee of $10. By breaking down both the financial and physical barriers to accessing food, we seek to improve the food security gap, reduce the environmental impact of food waste, and strengthen our community (we have some seriously committed, amazing volunteers. 26 to be exact!)
GL: Where does the edible food go once rescued?
JH: Once rescued, there are 3 pathways that the food might travel;
edible items that don’t meet criteria for our rescued food box program go directly to our partner non-profit charity organizations. These items can include prepared foods (i.e. pasta salads, wraps, etc.), breads, and pastries.
Edible items that are fresh produce, meats/protein, milk, and yogurt are brought back to YVR Prep where they are stored, sorted, and assembled for our Rescued Food Boxes. On Sundays, Mondays, and Thursdays, groups of volunteers join us at the warehouse to sort through all the produce and box it up with love before going out for delivery to our members.
The inedible food items that we find during sorting get put aside and picked up by our friends at PEACE for their animal sanctuary feed.
GL: What areas does Food Stash service?
JH: Food Stash operates in and around Metro Vancouver. As we continue to rescue more food, we continue to be able to serve more families and our capacity to reach beyond the city will be even more feasible!
GL: How many donation partners does Food Stash currently have? How can others join the cause?
JH: Food Stash currently has 29 partner locations!
Any business or organization interested in joining our cause can visit our website for more information or email our Administrative Coordinator, Vanessa at email@example.com to request a partner form.
We welcome both food suppliers and recipient organizations to get in touch if they would like to be involved. Similarly, we are always recruiting amazing volunteers to help make our mission possible! Individuals and/or groups can join us for our sorting and boxing days or opt to be a delivery volunteer (bike or car). We are also starting a new program very soon called Food Connections where we will link smaller businesses who want to be zero waste with a volunteer who can then facilitate the pick-up/drop-off to a recipient organization nearby.
GL: What is the purpose of the Rescued Food Box program?
JH: The purpose of the Rescued Food Box program (aka RFBP) is to increase access to nutritious food. People can face multiple barriers to accessing food, whether it is financial, physical, or simply circumstance. By offering a low-barrier service for busy families and individuals, we are hoping to feed those who may otherwise prioritize other expenses before food, or struggle to get to the store, when in reality, food should come first.
Apart from food security, we also encourage our members to be conscious consumers and strive to decrease their own waste as well within their households.
So, to answer your question, the food box program provides a direct service while also indirectly increasing the awareness of the environmental impacts of food waste and what those can do to help.
GL: What’s next for Food Stash?
JH: Food Stash is looking to feed 100 families by the end of the year, which is almost double our current operations! In order to do so, we will need help - from suppliers to recipients, to volunteers and supporters alike. We are striving to increase our volunteer base to accommodate more small businesses, restaurants, and cafes. Accomplishing both goals will allow us to broaden our impact.
Please feel free to get in touch with me (Julia) at firstname.lastname@example.org if you or your organization want to chat about collaborative opportunities.
GL: How can others help?
JH: Spread the word. Donate. Stay connected with us online or volunteer in-person. Get in touch and stay in touch! We are a community supporting community and couldn’t do what we do without you.
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