Loaves and Fishes Food 4U Food Recovery Program has dramatically changed the way Loaves and Fishes delivers its services to the community. Food Recovery has shown us that there is an abundance of food available in the community. In 2011, the year before we started doing Food Recovery, we sourced and distributed approximately $800,000 worth of food annually. In 2016 we sourced and distributed $3,000,000 worth of food. In 2019 we sourced and distributed $4,600,000 worth of food. This increase is almost exclusively the result of our Food 4U Food Recovery Program. Loaves and Fishes has been recognized as a provincial leader in Food Recovery and as result was asked to help Food Banks BC develop their Food Recovery Guide to help other food banks in the province set up a food recovery programs of their own.
So what is Food Recovery? Food Recovery is a program that collects all surplus food regardless of quality and redirects it to the highest and best use. This surplus food is primarily fruit, vegetables, meats and dairy items that grocery retailers have traditionally thrown out in the dumpster. By accepting all food, a Food Recovery Program is able to offer retailers a cost effective, socially responsible, and environmentally friendly way of disposing of food they are not able to sell.
Loaves and Fishes Food 4U Food Recovery Program picks up surplus food from Superstore, Thrifty Foods, Country Grocer, Save On Foods, Buy Low Foods, Sabzi Mandi Supermarket and Pomme Market 7 days a week in Nanaimo. We provide these retailers with clean sanitized, colour coded donation bins to ensure their operations can be efficiently run. It is our hope that other Grocery Stores will join our Food Recovery program in the near future. There is simply no reason for a grocery store to throw food out while there is people in need.
Once food is collected, our volunteers sort it according to the high standards of Food Banks Canada to ensure that only the highest quality food is made available to people. Food that does not meet these standards is made available to local farmers for their animals or composts. Whatever is not taken by farmers is either composted or as a last step, taken to the landfill.
The Food Recovery Pyramid shows how Food Recovery works in Nanaimo.