New program works to give food to those who need it in Richmond

A social enterprise officially launched a new program in Richmond on Thursday to give edible but imperfect food a second chance.

FoodMesh has launched the Food Recovery Network, which is a food match-up program that helps connect good food with people who want it, such as local charities, food banks and farmers who need feed for their herd. 

“Our goal is to create 300,000 meals in Richmond and to help local businesses and charities save over $1 million,” said Jessica Regan, founder and CEO of FoodMesh, adding that the program will run for a year.

FoodMesh also hopes the project will end up diverting 225,000 kilograms of food from waste streams and providing 50,000 kilograms of feed to local famers. 

According to a report issued by the city, 58 per cent of all food produced in Canada is never consumed. 

And in Richmond last year, 3,484 residents visited Richmond Food Bank more than 27,000 times – showcasing the need for accessible food in the city. 

Regan explained that some waste in the food industry are unnecessary and imprudent. 

For example, some groceries dump food several days before the expiration date, or toss bananas away if they spot small bruising on the fruit – even if the rest of the food is still edible and can be put to better use.

“It’s easier and cheaper to discard food than to redistribute it. Some manufacturing companies made mistakes in labeling (but the) food is totally fine. But it’s not economical for them to repackage everything, so they throw them away,” said Regan.

She added that food products that are surplus would be sold to other businesses or donated to local charities. 

FoodMesh, launched in 2016, asked the City of Richmond for one-time funding of $25,000 to support the expansion of their program into Richmond. 

City council approved the project in September of this year.

At present, the company has established relationships with several local food businesses, including Save-On-Foods and PriceSmart. However, Regan hopes more companies can join the initiative to reduce food waste.

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