Food waste put to use in North Okanagan food recovery network

Food waste put to use

A Vancouver company is tackling food waste in the North Okanagan.

FoodMesh is a start-up that received a $45,000 grant from the Regional District of North Okanagan. The company wants to help local organizations donate food that would otherwise go to waste.

The food recovery network will take food waste that is still safe for human consumption and give it to people in need. Instead of food going into landfills, it will go to people facing food insecurities.

The just-launched program is looking for local food businesses, charities, and farms to join the food recovery network.

“Food waste is a significant issue in Canada, and the North Okanagan is no exception,” says Jessica Regan, CEO and co-founder of FoodMesh. “With rising food costs affecting everyone, keeping food out of landfills and in the hands of people who need it most has never been more important.”

The RDNO last year approved an amendment to its solid waste management bylaw to include commercial food waste as a regulated material. This means commercial food operators are encouraged to stop food waste from going to landfills, and instead send the food to food recovery programs or compost.

The funding that FoodMesh received is through the RDNO's ReTHINK Waste project. It aims to support a circular economy be reusing things where possible.

With FoodMesh, five local retailers will be given access to the free Managed Retail Food Diversion Service. FoodMesh says it’s “designed to help maximize diversion of their unsold food to people in need.”

The grant is a 12-month commitment with RDNO so FoodMesh can facilitate connections between food businesses and those that need food charity.

“This plan prioritizes organic waste diversion and supports programs that actively ReTHINK Waste at the highest levels of the pollution prevention hierarchy through Reduce and Reuse initiatives,” says Darren Murray, RDNO environmental co-ordinator.

Once donated food is no longer good for human consumption, it will be donated to animals.

“We are looking for businesses, charities, farmers, food producers, and manufacturers, to reach out to us,” says Diana Scott, FoodMesh senior manager of product. “We want to identify those needs, make those connections and make an impact in this community.”

Those interested in joining the program can fill out a form here.

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