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N.B. community food hub aims for zero waste in their fight against food insecurity

Click to play video: 'N.B. community food hub aims for zero food waste'
N.B. community food hub aims for zero food waste
WATCH: A not-for-profit group in Dorchester, N.B. is striving to produce zero food waste, in a bid to combat food insecurity. Shelley Steeves has more. – May 3, 2024

A community food hub in New Brunswick has launched a food security model that it believes could help get more healthy food on the tables of Canadians by reducing food waste and turning profits.

Station 8 Community Food Hub’s philosophy is that people can squeeze as much as they can out of food stocks.

The small-town social enterprise in Dorchester, N.B. is aiming for zero food waste in its efforts to feed people in need.

“If we have a lot of grapes, oranges, anything that there is an abundance of, we juice it. Nothing goes to waste,” volunteer Moyra O’Donnell said, as she fed clementines into a juicer at the social enterprise’s new community kitchen.

Leftover grocery store food donations from a fridge stocked full of mostly meats and produce is handed out for free to anyone in the community struggling to put healthy food on the table, said Wendy Keats, who manages the community food hub.

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“People can’t afford fruits and vegetables and healthy proteins anymore,” Keats said.

Click to play video: 'New food hub in rural New Brunswick looking to assist residents facing food insecurity'
New food hub in rural New Brunswick looking to assist residents facing food insecurity

Seniors, families and students can fill up their grocery bags at the community fridge with no money ever changing hands. Among those using the fridge is Abigail Pond, who is working at the not-for-profit as an intern.

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“Even as a student, I sometimes struggle to buy groceries as well, so even working out here has been a benefit for myself as well,” Pond said.

To keep the healthy donations flowing out the door, the not-for-profit has had to start running more like a business than a charity,

“We want to have zero food waste,” said Keats.

She said they are turning any and all leftover food that might otherwise get thrown away into juices and food and selling it in their newly-opened community cafe.

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“We can process this food, which would otherwise be waste, and turn it into food that can be consumed by people,” said Keats, who said any profits are used for expenses and the community fridge program.

It’s a model that Keats believes should be followed in communities across the country. Addressing food insecurity as a not-for-profit social enterprise, she said, is more self-sustainable in the long term compared with charity organizations that struggle to access public and government funding and donations.

“We also do teaching kitchens so that is another way that we use our food and we get people trying new things,” she said.

Click to play video: 'University of New Brunswick fights food insecurity with new program'
University of New Brunswick fights food insecurity with new program

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