Sending leftover food from grocery stores to food banks may seem like a simple answer to food waste, but management and distribution have complicated the process in the past. Now in Canada, Food Banks of Quebec (FBC) has launched their province-wide Supermarket Recovery Program (SRP) to simplify distribution and management, enabling over 600 grocery stores to easily give back.

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FBC first launched the SRP, which they say is the first of its kind in Canada, a few years ago. Last year that initial pilot, with 177 grocery stores participating, collected around 5.5 million pounds of food and reduced greenhouse gas emissions by more than 2,000 metric tons. This year the FBC launched their province-wide program, with 611 supermarkets participating. According to Global News, the province-wide program will collect around 30.8 million pounds of food and result in 13,000 metric tons of carbon dioxide emission reduction every year.

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Sam Watts, the executive director of Welcome Hall Mission, a group providing services for the poor in Montreal, said it used to be difficult for supermarkets to accommodate food banks asking them for donations one by one. The SRP makes it easy for them to give unused produce away. Food will be gathered from their stores on a schedule, and then taken to a distribution center and delivered to food banks. As a middleman handing storage – enabling food to stay fresh or frozen – SRP enables leftover food to get safely and swiftly to people who need it.

Watts said in a Global News video, “Just to try and put competing companies together in a project like this, it took some real political will. The idea behind it is hey, we’ve got enough food in Quebec to feed everybody, let’s not be throwing things out. Let’s be recuperating what we can recuperate and let’s make sure we get it to people who need it.”

Via Global News

Images via Masahiro Ihara on Flickr and screenshot