Team at market launch © Courtesy of Food Stash Foundation
Canada loves food. From cooking shows to food blogs to our favourite neighbourhood eats, food brings us closer and is a source of joy for many. And yet, in Canada, we waste 58 percent of the food we produce. That’s 35 million metric tonnes of food, equivalent to 56.5 million metric tonnes of CO2 released into the atmosphere or the greenhouse gas emissions from 12,287,615 cars on the road in one year.
This waste costs Canada’s economy billions of dollars. Worse still, 32 percent of this waste could be rescued and eaten, providing a lifeline for the one in seven Canadians who are food insecure and struggle to put adequate, nutritious food on the table. According to city statistics, in British Columbia, 20 percent of Vancouverites live below the poverty line, and Vancouver has the second highest working poverty rate in Canada.
The problem is not lack of abundance—it’s lack of equal access. That’s where Food Stash Foundation comes in. In 2016, local Vancouver-based high school teacher David Schein watched a documentary that changed his life. The film, Just Eat It: A Food Waste Story, followed a Vancouver couple committed to only eating “food waste” for six months and opened Schein’s eyes to just how much food was truly wasted.
He saw an opportunity to improve our environment while helping individuals and families in need. By October 2017, Food Stash became a registered Canadian charity, and as the volunteer base grew, so did the support from their community. Food Stash Foundation has a twofold mission: reduce the environmental impact of food waste and bridge the food insecurity gap that exists within our community. In a typical month, the organization rescues 70,000 lbs of healthy, surplus food from grocers, wholesalers and farms that would otherwise go to waste and redistributes it to charity partners and Vancouver households experiencing food insecurity. Households like Mara’s and Lloyd’s.
For Mara, who suffers from a disabling chronic illness, access to food means the difference between despair and hope. Mara shares that the Rescued Food Box program felt like a dignified way to get food. She appreciated that she paid a small delivery fee for her food box delivery—even though it was much less than what she’d pay at the grocery store—and she could voice her food choices. Volunteers fill the CSA-style Rescued Food Boxes with whole veggies and fruits, dairy products, meat and substitutes; most of these boxes are delivered by e-trike!
We all deserve options for our eating habits—but one basic option should be access to healthy food; not just heavily-processed food. That belief led Food Stash to open its Rescued Food Market in Olympic Village, which features a “Pay What You Feel” model that allows anyone from the community to shop for good food in a dignified way, without forcing them to choose food over housing.
The need for Food Stash Foundation’s programs is huge—the Rescued Food Box program, for example, has a wait list of over 90. Keeping the organization growing and serving more people in need requires the help of grocery and farm partners who are willing to donate their good-quality surplus food (rather than throw it away), and of course, generous donors like you. Your support improves access to good, healthy food right here in Vancouver while preventing food waste.
Everyone needs to eat! Learn more and help families in your community at www.foodstash.ca
Food Stash Foundation was founded in 2016 by David Schein, a local Vancouver-based teacher who became inspired to reduce food waste after watching the documentary Just Eat It: A Food Waste Story. He saw an opportunity to improve our environment while also feeding individuals and families in need. By October 2017, Food Stash became a registered Canadian charity.