Every Monday, Gillian Smith heads to Save-On-Foods in Saskatoon for an anything but average grocery haul.
From dated dairy and deli, to expired baked goods and brown bananas, the food the grocery store can no longer sell to customers is passed on to local farmers, like Smith, free of charge.
Smith said the food is put to good use on her family’s farm, located west of the Battlefords, to feed horses, pigs, chickens, cats, and dogs.
“When you look at the amount of food that we waste as a society, it’s kind of staggering,” Smith said.
It’s part of the Loop Resource program, which partners with grocery stores in Western Canada to help small farms get feed for their animals, while reducing waste that would otherwise go to landfills.
In Saskatchewan, all six Save-On-Foods locations partner with Loop to supply unsaleable food to around 250 small family farms. The Saskatchewan stores have been at zero food waste for nearly a year because of the program.
“The goal of the organization is to do the best possible thing we can with the food that was going to waste,” Jaime White, Loop Resource new projects director, said.
“The next best thing you can do, if you can’t feed people, is to produce nutritious food in your community, and so farms are an integral part of that.”
White said in Saskatchewan, Loop is mainly partnered with Save-On-Foods, but expects other grocery stores to join in the near future.
“There’s a lot of appetite to change our relationship with food waste,” said White.
Smith has been getting animal feed through Loop since last July.
She said if she finds food that is still edible for humans, she will donate the food products to local charities.
“For feed bills, it’s cut it significantly,” Smith explained.
“It’s a big deal because we have small margins, we really, really do. Especially in a small operation like ourselves, we’re doing pastured pork, we’re doing pastured chickens, pastured eggs and when you’re able to cut that feed bill, that makes your bottom line look a lot nicer.”