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Ontario announces $5 million in provincial funding for food redistribution program

Fruit on stand.
Fruit on stand. Katie Alaimo/Kalamazoo Gazette via AP

The Ontario government has announced $5 million in funding to help redistribute a surplus of food to people and communities during the COVID-19 pandemic.

The one-time investment, announced in London, Ont., on Friday, will support 30 food rescue organizations and Indigenous communities collect, store and deliver food to those who need it most.

Jeff Yurek, minister of the environment, conservation and parks and MPP for Elgin – Middlesex – London, said that in 2018, Ontario created 3.6 million tonnes of food and organic waste, with 60 per cent of that ending up in landfills.

“When the pandemic hit, the shutdown left many food producers with an excess of food on their hands,” Yurek said.

“Many restaurants and caterers who were operating on greatly reduced capacity and the same time charitable food organizations saw a sharp incense in demand for food.”

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Read more: Coronavirus — 11 cases, 10 recoveries, 1 resolved outbreak reported in London-Middlesex

Yurek said the money from the program will help organizations purchase food and equipment to collect and deliver food, like refrigerated trucks and refrigerators, and, if needed, rent space to store what is collected.

Yurek said the idea was something that the London Food Coalition and Youth Opportunities Unlimited came up with a year ago.

“The London Food Coalition is projected to reduce 125 kilograms of food this year, and it will result in saving 237,000 kilograms of greenhouse gases,” said Doug Whitelaw, a founding partner of the London Food Coalition.

“This will increase our capability to collect and store the food we collect now.”

Whitelaw said when the pandemic hit, the organization had to turn down some donations because it could not store all of the perishable food.