Freezers are filled with halibut, french fries, chicken and much more throughout Inuvik this month thanks to a non-profits efforts to bring “rescued” food to Inuvik.
When Covid-19 forced mass lock-downs across Canada, hundreds of restaurants which normally purchase food in bulk broke off their orders, leaving suppliers in the lurch as to what to do with their warehouses filled with surplus food.
Enter Second Harvest — a Canada-wide non-profit that seeks to reduce food waste and get food that would otherwise get wasted to families who need it.
“At the beginning of Covid-19 we created a national task force to determine where the surplus food was going to be,” said CEO Lori Nikkel. “It was also to build in a legacy. Now that we’ve figured it out, how do we continue? Because there is always surplus food.
“If we can get it there now, when it was paid for, then we can continue to do that.”
An $11 million federal grant to help relieve the pressure of the economic freeze allowed Second Harvest to collect food going to waste throughout the area and put it on trucks to communities in need, but also keeping restaurant suppliers in business too.
In the end, over 14 pallets of food were brought to Inuvik to fill orders made by the Inuvik Food Bank, Inuvik Native Band, Nihtat Gwich’in Council, the Gwich’in Tribal Council and Inuvialuit Regional Corporation. The food was picked up at Nihtat Gwich’in Council’s office on Oct. 19 and anyone in the community was welcome.
Nikkel said that was it for the grant funding, but Second Harvest was looking into ways they could provide more abandoned food in the future.
“We want to, but it likely won’t be through the federal government,” she said. “That’s one of the reasons we wanted to do this. In Canada, we waste 58 per cent of all the food produced by Canadians — we literally throw away more food than we eat in this country.
“So we really wanted to figure out how do we build out this web of logistics so we can piggyback on existing things with a whole lot of free food. We’re not only about feeding people, which is critical, but its also about keeping food out of landfills because its a direct contributor to climate change.
“We’re working on solutions with different partners, so we should have a better understanding of where, what and when, and then we can push food into the places that really need it the most.”
Founded in 1985, Second Harvest is the largest food organization in Canada. It works to catch surplus food before it gets thrown out and get it to people who need it. In 2019, it distributed over 15 million pounds of food to 1,080 social service organizations. Since its inception, the organization has recovered more than 155 million pounds of food, and by keeping it out of landfills has prevented over 192 million pounds of greenhouse gases from entering the atmosphere.