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Canada

Program connects farmers and grocery stores to tackle food waste

WATCH ABOVE: The Loop Resource program pairs grocery stores in Western Canada with local farmers to reduce food waste.

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.

READ MORE: Central Okanagan food banks partner with B.C. grocery chain

“When you look at the amount of food that we waste as a society, it’s kind of staggering,” Smith said.

The Smith family use the produce to feed chickens on their farm.
The Smith family use the produce to feed chickens on their farm. Gillian Smith / Submitted

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.

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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.”

READ MORE: More than half of food produced in Canada is wasted: ‘It would horrify our grandparents’

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.

Potentially wasted food is passed along to local farmers to use to feed animals.
Potentially wasted food is passed along to local farmers to use to feed animals. Tyler Schroeder / Global News

READ MORE: Key fobs won’t work near an Alberta grocery store – and no one knows why

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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.

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“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.”

The Smith family farm is located near North Battleford.
The Smith family farm is located near North Battleford. Gillian Smith / Submitted