The Summerland Research and Development Centre has taken on initiative to address food waste and food insecurity in Canada.
According to information from Agriculture and Agri-Food Canada, it is estimated that half of Canada’s food supply goes to waste. This is roughly a $50 billion loss.
In addition, one in seven Canadian households is affected by food insecurity.
Food waste also affects the environment. Greenhouse gases released from decomposing food in landfills accounts for an estimated eight per cent of global emissions.
This Summerland research facility produces surplus crops each year, all for the sake of ensuring the continued sustainability of Canada’s agriculture industry. Many of these surplus crops originate from field research trials or come from crop rotations that ensure the research farm soils stay healthy and productive.
At Summerland facility, most of these surplus crops will not get harvested and either end up being re-incorporated into the soil as fertilizer or hauled to a compost facility or landfill.
Taras Pojasok, associate director at the research centre teamed up with Leanne Wilson of the St. John’s facility and then with Chris Pagliocchini, a biologist at the Summerland facility to ensure the fruit would be distributed to households in need in the Okanagan.
Through initiatives like the Food Policy for Canada and the Food Waste Reduction Challenge, the research facility is providing food from its facility to the Central Okanagan Food Bank in Kelowna.
In 2022, more than 540 kilograms of apples and more than 1,130 kilograms of pears were donated to the food bank.
“Any help that we can provide to local food banks in B.C. is a win for everyone,” Pojasok, said.
The donations have benefited the food bank, where there is an increased demand for its services.
“Throughout the month of March, we provided food assistance to over 7,000 individuals who are struggling to put food on the table in Kelowna and West Kelowna,” said Trevor Freeman, director of operations at the Central Okanagan Food Bank. “Because of the increased demand for our services, we’ve had to rely on the support from organizations like Agriculture and Agri-Food Canada to help us with the equitable distribution of fresh produce to families, children and seniors.”
The Summerland facility plans to continue donations to food banks and families in the future.
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