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Okanagan teen to take food waste petition to Ottawa

WATCH: On World Food Day, a B.C. teen presented a petition to the federal government calling for a law banning food waste. Justin Kulik, 17, says grocery stores should be forced to donate food to charities or food banks. Reid Fiest reports.

Less than a year after launching his online petition, a 17-year-old Kelowna high school student is preparing to deliver the document in person to Canada’s federal agriculture minister at a meeting on Tuesday.

Doing so will mean presenting boxes and boxes of paper to the official, as Justin Kulik’s online petition has over 160,000 signatures.

“The ask of my petition is that supermarkets and grocery stores be barred from wasting unsold but still edible food and instead (donate) it to charities such as food banks,” explained Kulik.

The teen got the idea after seeing a friend’s post on social media about food waste.

READ MORE: Quebec grocery stores in province-wide program to send unused produce to food banks

“I was shocked so I did some more research of my own and I was like ‘OK, let’s change this,'” he recalled.

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The idea of food donation programs for stores is one that’s been embraced in Quebec, where there is a provincewide system to send unsold produce to food banks.

Watch: National campaign aims to trim Canadian food waste.
National campaign aims to trim Canadian food waste
National campaign aims to trim Canadian food waste

There are also examples of individual stores and chains across Canada donating unused food products to charity.

However, if donation was mandated countrywide, there would be costs involved in transporting and storing the food.

READ MORE: Food waste at record levels as other Canadians go hungry

“A way to go around this is to offer tax rebates to grocery stores (and) supermarkets that are able to fulfill this,” suggested Kulik.

Now, the teen is prepping to make his case to the minister when Change.org, the website where he started his petition, flies him to Ottawa this week.

“I’m feeling optimistic. There are, of course, two ways that this could go,” Kulik said.

If it is not a yes right away, Kulik said he plans to follow up down the line to see if progress is being made.

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