12 Apr Too good to waste: FoodMesh working to recover surplus food in the North Okanagan
April 12, 2023
The Regional District of North Okanagan (RDNO) has provided financial support to FoodMesh to build a food recovery network in the region.
Thanks to a $45,000 RDNO Re-Think Waste Grant, FoodMesh is working to build a food recovery network in the North Okanagan. A B.C.-based startup, FoodMesh helps local organizations divert their surplus food away from landfills and compost, and ensure it is put to its highest use: to people first, and then to animals. Now, local food businesses, charities, and farmers in the North Okanagan region are invited to join the 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. We are grateful to the Regional District of North Okanagan for its support in addressing this important issue.”
FoodMesh is offering five local retailers free access to its Managed Retail Food Diversion Service, designed to help maximize diversion of their unsold food to people in need. FoodMesh will set retailers up with a network of charities to which they can donate their unsold food, as well as provide the technology to track the volume of food donations and to measure the impact they are having. Any retailer interested in creating a food donation program at its stores is invited to contact FoodMesh to learn more. The free service will be offered on a first come, first served basis.
A 2022 waste composition study completed in the RDNO found that, of all food waste being landfilled, over 76 per cent was avoidable, meaning the food was still edible. Programs like FoodMesh’s Managed Retail Food Diversion Service help address the problem and, as a bonus, also benefit the environment by decreasing the amount of organic waste sent to landfills, which is a major source of greenhouse gas emissions. Food production is also incredibly resource-intensive, requiring land, water and fuel, which has an impact on the environment.
Last year, to discourage landfilling of commercial food waste, the RDNO approved an amendment to its Municipal Solid Waste Management bylaw to include commercial food waste as a regulated material. As part of the changes, commercial food operators are encouraged to divert their surplus food waste away from landfills to food recovery programs or compost.
“Establishing a food recovery network supports the goals and strategies of the RDNO Solid Waste Management Plan,” says Darren Murray, RDNO Environmental Coordinator. “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. A key enabler of these priorities is the Circular Economy that brings organizations together, like FoodMesh is doing to retain value in our resources and design waste out of the system.”
FoodMesh can help businesses find options for their surplus food. The company seeks to unite all elements of the food supply chain, helping businesses quickly and easily divert their surplus food to people who need it. According to Statistics Canada, one in seven Canadians is food insecure. Through FoodMesh’s work, surplus food that is safe for human consumption is shared among a network of charities to be turned into meals, while food that is no longer acceptable for people to eat is available for donation to farmers for their animals.
Since FoodMesh launched in 2017, 23.7 million kg of food have been diverted away from landfills, creating the equivalent of more than 34.9 million meals and saving 60.9 million kg of C02 emissions from entering the atmosphere.
Organizations interested in joining the FoodMesh network can learn more by filling out a short form, available here.
Mesh Exchange (dba FoodMesh) is a Vancouver-based Certified B Corporation, dedicated to reducing unnecessary food waste and feeding more. It provides digital solutions that unite all elements of the food supply chain to help organizations quickly and easily divert their surplus food to the people in our communities who need it most. Learn more at foodmesh.ca.
Diana Scott, Senior Manager of Product, FoodMesh