Donating food to a food bank is a good thing but donating “unwanted” food may not be so good.
The problem is “unwanted’ does not mean something that you would not eat yourself. “Unwanted” does not mean rotten, half-used, past expiry dates, bug-infested or lacking any nutritional value.
Food banks regularly receive donations that do not help the food bank or help feed visitors to food banks.
Recently, The Greater Vancouver Food Bank warned it’s wasting too much money and wasting volunteer time after receiving too many unusable donations. The Greater Vancouver Food Bank spends about $40,000 a year to put this into the waste stream.
A study authored by Adrienne C. Teron, BASc, and Valerie S. Tarasuk, PhD, Charitable Food Assistance: What are Food Bank Users Receiving? , 78% of hampers sampled contained at least one damaged or outdated item. The report also stated that over half the survey participants believed they had received food that was unsafe to eat. The visibly substandard nature of some of the food contribute to the embarrassment degradation some report in association with food bank use
Food donations that actually sustains an individual are needed .A case study, Can Food Banks Sustain Nutrient Requirements? , reported that 99% of food hampers sampled failed to provide 3 days worth of nutrients. Grains and cereals met the lower range of Canada’s Food Guide recommendations, and fruits and vegetables, meats and alternatives, and dairy products were below recommended levels, as were numerous vitamins and minerals, including vitamins A, D, B12, C, riboflavin, niacin, calcium, magnesium and zinc. Carbohydrates were slightly above recommended DRI, and energy from fat and protein scarcely met the minimums recommended. Hampers contained 1.6 days worth of energy per person.
Each month, over 850,000 people turn to food banks for help; more than one-third are children and youth.
What can you do?
- Donate good food
- Find out what your local food bank needs https://www.foodbank.bc.ca/get-involved/most-wanted-items/
- When clearing your cupboards make sure you read expiry dates and compost/discard anything that is past dates
- Donate only foods in packaging that has not been opened and is intact
- Forget the Kraft dinner and junk food and think of healthy meals https://www.foodbankscanada.ca/Blog/March-2016-(1)/Most-needed-nutritious-food-bank-donations.aspx
- Donate money Edmonton’s Food Bankspends $160,000 to purchase eggs to supplement hampers – and eggs are a healthy source of protein, easy to prepare and fit in many culturally appropriate diets.
- Close to 40% of food banks are run solely by volunteers, and the remainder rely heavily on volunteer assistance
- Donate regularly not just at Christmas
- Don’t waste food. Buy what you need and use it.
- Learn about food insecurity in Canada
We can help food banks feed those in need by sharing our good food not donating our discards.
Donating is not dumping.