It’s 2021, and world hunger persists.
Statistics show the global agricultural industry produces enough food to successfully feed the population of the entire planet. Yet, hundreds of millions of people in both developing and developed nations experience food insecurity and poverty every single day. Food waste represents a massive modern crisis.
Food waste, not to be confused with food loss, refers specifically to edible items that are discarded, despite being completely fit for human consumption, following initial production stages such as harvest and transportation.
Between restaurant, retailer and household waste, massive amounts of edible food are wasted every single day, all around the globe. Despite much of this waste being avoidable, the fact remains that thousands of pounds of viable food travel from farms to landfills each year. From both a human interest and environmental perspective, food waste represents a crisis with significant consequences.
According to a 2018 report on Global Food Waste and its Environmental Impact, “An estimated 1.3 billion tonnes of food is wasted globally each year, one third of all food produced for human consumption.”
A 2019 Technical Report on The Avoidable Crisis of Food Waste by Second Harvest highlights that in Canada alone, the annual avoidable food loss and waste totals 11.2 million metric tonnes, reaching a total value of $49.5 billion. According to the report, this amount “equates to 3% of Canada’s 2016 GDP and would feed every person living in Canada for almost 5 months” (6).
In addition to harming the community, food waste negatively impacts the environment by creating a massive drain on existing resources without reason. “When edible items are discarded, it’s not just food that is wasted. Consider all the resources required to bring food from the farm to your table: water for irrigation, land for planting, fuel for powering harvest and transport vehicles … when restaurant owners fill their rubbish bins with uneaten meals, all those resources are essentially wasted” (1).
Reallocating surplus goods, as opposed to throwing them away, is a critical step in reducing food waste, minimizing the carbon footprint of the agricultural sector, and aiding individuals in gaining access to basic needs. According to Second Harvest, “Four million Canadians have insufficient access to food. Nevertheless, of the avoidable and edible food loss and waste (FLW) that occurs along the value chain, an estimated 86 percent is currently not rescued and redistributed” (6).
In Calgary, a number of citywide and business specific “food rescue” programs are in place with the goal of addressing and reducing those staggering statistics. Organizations such as the Leftovers Foundation reduce food waste by collecting and redirecting leftover products to places in need, such as shelters or charities, as opposed to letting them be thrown away at the end of each day.
With three locations across Calgary, Edmonton and Winnipeg, the Leftovers Foundation works with local restaurants, bakeries, grocers and distributors to redirect excess edible food where it is needed most. In Calgary, city coordinators work closely with food donors and service agencies to establish weekly and bi-weekly routes for pick up and drop off by volunteers. The Leftovers Foundation fulfills service agency food needs on both a scheduled and as-needed basis. “We are the connection point between people who have good, edible, nutritious food to donate,” says Audra Stevenson, Interim CEO for the Leftovers Foundation, “and those who are unable to put food on their plates.”
In 2019, the Leftovers Foundation launched their Food Rescue app in partnership with Technovation, to streamline connections between volunteers and food redirection routes. Stevenson describes the app as a “game-changer” for the organization, and as a result, the Leftovers Foundation has been able to standardize and scale their operations much more effectively.
In this line of work, where the ultimate goal is to reduce food waste, food poverty, and the associated environmental impacts, collaboration is key. The Leftovers Foundation works collaboratively with other food rescue services around the city to avoid duplication and ensure all the food that can be saved, gets saved. “We’re supportive of every possible food rescue initiative,” says Stevenson, “It’s about every pound of food that makes it way onto someone’s plate instead of into the landfill.”
Other food rescue resources:
Calgary Food Bank Food Rescue and Share Program
Kerby Centre Food Rescue
Zero Waste YYC
In the war on food waste, every effort counts. “Food insecurity is becoming a bigger and bigger problem with COVID,” says Stevenson, “It’s not going to just go away. Any way you can get involved with our systems, whether it’s volunteering, donating, just paying attention to gaps in the community – now is the time to get involved and help reduce food waste.”
For more information on the Leftovers Foundation and how to get involved in Calgary’s efforts to reduce food waste, visit https://rescuefood.ca
For more stories, visit Todayville Calgary.
Parkland blames pandemic as Q4 profits and revenue slide on lower fuel sales
CALGARY — Parkland Corp. is reporting lower fourth-quarter earnings and revenue as affects of the COVID-19 pandemic lockdowns continue to erode fuel sales.
The Calgary-based convenience store operator and fuel retailer says it had net earnings of $53 million in the last three months of 2020 on revenue of $3.47 billion, down from $176 million on revenue of $4.78 billion in the same period of 2019.
It says it sold 5.4 billion litres of fuel and petroleum products in the fourth quarter, a decrease of seven per cent compared with the year-earlier period.
It says lower volumes were offset by strong per unit fuel profit margins in Canada and in its international operations, as well as robust company convenience store same-store sales growth in Canada of around eight per cent and a healthy 90 per cent utilization of its Burnaby, B.C., refinery.
Parkland says it will hike its dividend by two per cent, its ninth consecutive annual increase.
The company says it plans growth capital spending of between $175 million and $275 million in 2021, along with between $225 million and $275 million in maintenance capital spending, including about $40 million of work deferred from 2020.
“In 2021, we will strengthen our customer offerings and continue our organic growth initiatives, advance our disciplined acquisition strategy and deepen our commitment to providing customers with low-carbon fuel choices as part of our broader sustainability efforts,” said CEO Bob Espey.
This report by The Canadian Press was first published March 4, 2021.
Companies in this story: (TSX:PKI)
The Canadian Press
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