Greenhouse Canada

Federal program redistributes surplus food to vulnerable populations

The new Surplus Food Rescue Program aims to ensure that surplus food reaches vulnerable populations in Canada.

June 16, 2020  By Agriculture and Agri-Food Canada (edited)

Agriculture and Agri-Food Canada launched the $50 million Surplus Food Rescue Program yesterday. The program aims to move surplus food commodities through the food system as efficiently as possible to help vulnerable Canadians.

COVID-19 caused significant disruptions to areas of Canada’s food system, as it forced the near closure of the restaurant and hospitality industry in Canada and the United States. Some producers across Canada are left with surpluses of quality food, while increased demand from grocery stores alone is not expected to clear the inventory before it spoils. At the same time, the pandemic has increased the demand for food from food banks and other food security organizations in communities across Canada.

The Surplus Food Rescue Program has two core objectives:

  • Provide assistance to organizations serving vulnerable populations to acquire and process surplus commodities and food that would otherwise be lost or destroyed and distribute them to populations in need.
  • Connect surplus food commodities to vulnerable populations to avoid food waste.

The program aims to ensure the surplus food reaches vulnerable populations in Canada through the purchase, processing, transportation and redistribution of surplus food. The program is designed to rescue surplus food that may be fresh, frozen inventory or in need of further processing due to its highly perishable nature.

Eligible applicants include for-profit and not-for-profit organizations (industry groups, processors, distributors, food serving agencies, regional and municipal governments and agencies (can include schools or school boards) that can demonstrate an ability to handle the full logistical requirements for acquiring, processing, transporting and ensuring shelf-life stability of surplus commodities and delivery to organizations serving vulnerable populations.

This is a time-limited program to help manage and redirect existing surpluses to organizations addressing food insecurity and to avoid food waste. It will provide an opportunity for non-profit and for-profit organizations across the supply chain to bid on significant volumes of surplus products at the cost of production or less, processing them where necessary for longer shelf life and distributing to food serving agencies.

Applicants under this program may be eligible to receive a maximum of $20 million unless the organization can make a case to move commodities in all categories.

Information on the application process is available through the Surplus Food Rescue Program.

“The Government of Canada is working around the clock to respond to the impacts of the COVID-19 on farmers, agri-food businesses and all Canadians. The pandemic has caused significant fluctuations in food demand and supply, resulting in surplus food across our country. We are working hard to help manage and redirect this surplus food to those who need it during this difficult time,” says Marie-Claude Bibeau, federal minister of Agriculture and Agri-Food.

“A safe and reliable food supply in remote and Northern communities is critical, not only in a pandemic, but every day. The current crisis has placed increased demand on food suppliers and food banks all across the country. Combined with our increased support through Nutrition North Canada, the Surplus Food Rescue Program will help ensure communities in the North continue to have access to healthy and affordable food during this challenging time,” says Dan Vandal, Minister of Northern Affairs

Applications are being accepted until July 15 beginning immediately.

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