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Tag Archives: Food Insecurity

World Food Day

October 16th was World Food Day. World Food Day is annually held on October 16 to commemorate the founding of the United Nations’ (UN) Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO). Each year has a different theme. This year’s message is “Climate is changing. Food and agriculture must too.”

On Oct 5th 2016, Bill C-231, a private members bill introduced by Ruth Ellen Brosseau (Berthier-Maskinongé), the New Democrat agriculture critic, seeking to develop a national strategy to reduce food waste in Canada as well as a national food waste awareness day was defeated in the House of Commons. Bill C-231 called for implementation of the Fight Against Food Waste Act, which would comprise a national day of awareness about food waste; and, a national strategy aimed at raising public awareness of food waste, putting tools in place to help consumers reduce food waste; facilitating donation of blemished but edible food to community organizations and food banks, studying various ways to reduce the environmental impact of the production of unused food resources, and establishing food waste reduction targets.

While Bill C-231 was defeated, Ms Brosseau put a spotlight on two issues food waste and loss, and food insecurity both complex problems in our society that urgently need multiple solutions and actions.

Climate is changing. Food and agriculture must too…but so must we as citizens of this planet.

Here are some things you can do:

*support small local farms by buying locally grown and insisting that local farms are an valued part of your sustainable community

*conserve water

* feed the soil

*keep soil and water clean

*Create businesses that use food that may otherwise be wasted

*buy only what you will use (recognize there is a difference between need and want)

*support humanitarian outreach, development investment and policy interventions that enhance resilience for communities effected by climate change

* buy fair trade products

* reduce your waste

While World Food Day was Oct 16 the issues of food, waste, food insecurity, climate change are issues that we face daily around the globe. We can be part of the solution rather than part of the problem.

Fruit Tree Projects: Rescuing Backyard Fruit

Fruit Tree Projects across Canada are tackling the problem of food waste in our own backyards.

Those fruit trees in our backyards can be a fabulous source of fresh, healthful food for family, friends or food banks. The bounty from backyard fruit trees can sometimes go to waste when fruit doesn’t get picked when it’s ripe, or there’s just too much fruit for one family to use when things ripen all at once.

Fruit Tree Projects are a form of urban gleaning: picking a crop, especially the part of a crop that might have previously gone to waste while connecting this food with individuals in need.

Fruit Tree Projects are non-profit organizations that rely on volunteers to pick the fruit. A common model of harvest sharing for these food recovery groups is one-third of produce for home-owner, one-third of produce goes to volunteer pickers and one-third goes to a local organization that can use food. The Halton Food Tree Project has donated rescued produce to organizations like Refresh Foods For Life and given 5000 apples to a farm to school food program.

The first Fruit Tree Project was founded in Victoria B.C. in 1998, LifeCycles Project Society . This community organization focuses on initiatives that create urban sustainability and food security solutions and has grown to provide projects that promote growing food and cooking healthy affordable meals.

Fruit Tree Projects can be found across Canada with large cities like Vancouver, Edmonton, Winnipeg, Toronto, Hamilton and Montreal having recovery/gleaning groups. Fruit Tree projects can also be found in smaller communities like Nelson B.C.

The benefits of Fruit Tree Projects include reducing food waste, improving access to local food, building community, knowledge sharing and addressing climate change. As an example to highlight the positive impact of these programs in Victoria, LifeCycles Fruit Tree Project harvests between 30,000 to 40,000 pounds of produce from privately owned trees that would otherwise go to waste. Toronto’s fruit tree project, Not Far from the Tree estimates that is approximately 1.5 million pounds produced by Toronto’s urban canopy and most goes unpicked.

With over 4 million individuals in Canada experiencing food insecurity, these local solutions can create opportunities and positive impacts in our communities.

If do not have a Fruit Tree project in your community, you may want to start one, LifeCycles has produced an informative guide on how to start a Fruit Tree Project .

If you have fruit trees that may go to waste consider contacting your local “Fruit Tree Project” .Or if you are looking for a rewarding volunteer experience for the whole family volunteer to pick fruit.

Fruit is a valuable natural resource that is too good to waste.

More links

Donate “good” food to food banks

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.

 

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Each month, over 850,000 people turn to food banks for help; more than one-third are children and youth.

What can you do?

  1. Donate good food
  2. Find out what your local food bank needs
  3. When clearing your cupboards make sure you read expiry dates and compost/discard anything that is past dates
  4. Donate only foods in packaging that has not been opened and is intact
  5. Forget the Kraft dinner and junk food and think of healthy meals
  6. Donate money Edmonton’s Food Bank spends $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.
  7. Close to 40% of food banks are run solely by volunteers, and the remainder rely heavily on volunteer assistance
  8. Donate regularly not just at Christmas
  9. Don’t waste food. Buy what you need and use it.
  10. 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.