ST. HYANCINTHE, QC, Aug. 13, 2020 /CNW/ - The Honourable Marie-Claude Bibeau, Minister of Agriculture and Agri-Food, was at Nutri Group Head office, in Saint-Hyacinthe, Quebec, today to announce details of the first-ever federal government program that will provide millions of pounds of quality, nutritious, surplus food to Canada's most vulnerable populations.
The innovative Surplus Food Rescue Program is a $50-million federal initiative designed to address urgent, high volume, highly perishable surplus products falling under fruit, vegetables, meat and fish and seafood. These surpluses were created because the COVID-19 pandemic largely shut down the restaurant and hospitality industry, leaving many producers without a key market for their food commodities.
The Program awarded contributions to eight organizations that leverage existing food redistribution and recovery networks and agencies, who will bring the food to every region in the country. Partners, which include leading not-for-profits Food Banks Canada and Second Harvest, and La Tablée des Chefs, will redistribute products such as potatoes, walleye, chicken, turkey, eggs, and more. In total, the program will redistribute approximately 12 million kilograms of surplus food to more food insecure families that would otherwise have been wasted.
For over 30 years, Nutri-Group and its partner producers have been providing consumers in Canada with high-quality sustainable eggs, while helping farmers build stronger businesses and rural communities. Through the Surplus Food Rescue Program, Nutri Group will be providing Food Banks Canada and Second Harvest more than 1 million dozen eggs at cost to ensure Canadians continue to receive fresh, nutritious food during the pandemic. The eggs will be redistributed to many food banks and local food organizations across Canada, notably across the network of moissons in Quebec.
The significant disruptions to Canada's restaurant and hospitality industry caused by COVID-19 has left many producers with surplus food and no way to get it onto the plates of Canadians. The eight partnerships announced which involve over 100 different organizations will help farmers meet the needs of vulnerable Canadians and recover the cost of their efforts.
The funding provided under the Program is ensuring producers and food processors like Nutri Group are fairly compensated for their work at the cost of production, while growing relationships with community food providers and supporting efforts to reduce food waste.
"This is a win-win. Not only are we helping producers who cannot sell their goods to restaurants, but we are also aiding Canadians that have had to seek help from food banks. These eight impressive partnerships between food businesses and not-for-profit organizations, target those food commodities that had significant and urgent surpluses, making a difference both at the level of the producer and the food bank, from coast-to-coast-to-coast."
- The Honourable Marie-Claude Bibeau, Minister of Agriculture and Agri-Food
"The women and men of Canada's fish and seafood industry are working hard throughout this pandemic to keep our economy stable and our food supply chain strong. This program will help ensure that none of their effort goes to waste, as we redirect surplus fish and seafood to the Canadians who need it most. By working across sectors to build partnerships, we're creating a mutually beneficial system that meets two urgent needs at once."
- The Honourable Bernadette Jordan, Minister of Fisheries, Oceans and the Canadian Coast Guard
"We are very grateful for this investment by the federal government. It leverages the deep supply chain expertise and knowledge the food banking network has, thereby helping those in Canada experiencing food insecurity in the most efficient manner. We are thankful for the opportunity to build deeper partnerships within the agri-food system as well as helping ensure that highly nutritious, available food feeds people in need and that these resources are stewarded responsibly."
- Chris Hatch, CEO, Foods Banks Canada
"The pandemic has brought unprecedented challenges across the entire food supply chain as well as for Canadians struggling with food access. Funding from the Surplus Food Rescue Program will have positive environmental, economic and social impact by diverting healthy surplus food to communities, instead of becoming landfill waste. As an organization with the dual mission of 'no waste, no hunger,' Second Harvest is proud to participate in this integrated response to meet the needs of the agri-food sector and vulnerable Canadians."
- Lori Nikkel, CEO, Second Harvest
"As a producer-owned company with a presence across the country, we are committed to making eggs available to all Canadian families, the production of which meets the highest standards of quality and animal welfare. The Nutri Group feels challenged in the present context where more families are using food banks and these organizations are struggling to meet demand. As the implementation of this assistance program begins, we would like to salute the measures taken by the federal government, which proposes promising solutions to meet the needs expressed by vulnerable families and to resolve various issues raised within our poultry industry."
- Serge Lefebvre, President of Nutri Group and egg producer in Montérégie, Québec
- For over 30 years, Nutri Group has been providing consumers in the region with high-quality sustainable eggs, while helping farmers build stronger businesses and stronger rural communities.
- Nutri Group includes graders from several provinces, namely Star egg in Saskatchewan, Country Side Farm in Manitoba, Ontario Pride egg in Ontario, Maritime Pride Egg in Nova Scotia, Nutri-Oeuf, Ovale et les Oeufs Richard in Quebec.
- Second Harvest is a registered charity whose purpose is to rescue and deliver fresh, healthy, surplus food to feed people experiencing hunger across Canada. With an existing network of over 1,750 non-profit partners and a history in food rescue and logistics, Second Harvest is well positioned to purchase, process, and distribute surplus food across Canada.
- Food Banks Canada is a national not-for-profit organization that works closely with a network of provincial associations, affiliate food banks, and food agencies. With FBC's coordination efforts, over 3,000 food banks and community agencies distribute food to Canada's vulnerable populations, with 1.1 million people served in 2019.
- According to Statistics Canada, one in seven Canadians indicated that they live in a household where there was food insecurity over a one month period during the COVID-19 pandemic.
- In 2019, there were 1.1 million visits to food banks and 5.6 million meals served on average each month.
- This announcement builds on the measures we have introduced to keep Canada's agri-workforce strong, including:
- $100 million for food banks and local food organizations to help Canadians experiencing food insecurity, which is helping serve an estimated 2 million Canadians through 1,800 different community-level food organizations.
- Over $77 million in funding for the Emergency Processing Fund (EPF), whose objectives include helping companies implement changes to safeguard the health and safety of workers and their families.
- $25 million through Nutrition North to ensure food security for Canada's most vulnerable
- Travel exemptions for all temporary foreign workers, including seasonal agricultural workers and fish/seafood workers.
- $50 million in funding for the Mandatory Isolation Support Program for Temporary Foreign Workers to help the farming, fish harvesting, and food production and processing sectors cover the incremental costs associated with the mandatory 14-day isolation period imposed under the Quarantine Act on temporary foreign workers upon entering Canada.
- Government of Canada implements surplus food rescue program to help alleviate food concerns of vulnerable Canadians (AAFC)
- Support for Canada's food supply system (PMO)
- Food Banks Canada
- Second Harvest
Backgrounder - Surplus Food Rescue Program
The Surplus Food Rescue Program is a $50 million initiative which will help to support Canada's food system, food processors, and food producers, and distributors to help ensure food availability for all Canadians.
Funding will be used to help manage and redirect existing surpluses to organizations addressing food insecurity and ensure that these surplus products are not wasted.
COVID-19 and Surplus Food
The impacts of COVID-19 have resulted in the disruptions to areas of Canada's food system, as it forced the near closure of the restaurant and hospitality industry in Canada and the United States.
Some producers across Canada are left with surpluses of quality food, while increased demand from grocery stores alone is not expected to clear the inventory before it spoils.
Another impact of the pandemic is an increase in demand for food from food banks and other food security organizations in communities across Canada.
The Surplus Food Rescue Program will help to address these imbalances by providing new funding for the repurposing and redistribution of surplus food to vulnerable Canadians.
In ongoing consultations with industry and government stakeholders, the program was designed to address urgent, high volume, highly perishable surplus products falling under horticulture, meat and fish and seafood.
The program will ensure that the food needs of vulnerable populations in Canada will be addressed, positive relationships with community food providers will be maintained, and efforts to reduce food waste will be supported.
The Surplus Food Rescue Program has awarded contributions to organizations such as industry groups, processors, distributors, food security organizations, regional and municipal governments and agencies who:
- will acquire and move the most surplus product (and identified amount to be moved)
- use the most cost-effective approach (for acquiring food/acquiring product at or below the cost of production or through donations as applicable)
- use the most cost-effective approach for processing (only process if cannot be distributed otherwise) and at minimal cost
- are most efficient, from wholesale purchase to food serving agencies (drawing down on surplus quickly)
- make sure food reaches the most vulnerable and remote communities, especially northern communities (target of up to 10 per cent for all food under the program)
- have partnerships already established along the supply chain including food serving agencies
Approved projects under the Surplus Food Rescue Program
Approved projects under the program include:
Second Harvest - $11,007,095
Second Harvest will rescue multiple surplus commodities, and flow those foods in current and processed formats to vulnerable populations across Canada. Distribution will be done via the FoodRescue.ca online platform and mobile app to determine when and from where specific surplus foods are acquired, and ensure that the rate of distribution does not exceed the handling and storage capacity of individual food charities. The project's scope encompasses the purchase, further processing, storage, and distribution of surplus to regional charitable partners across Canada.
Les Fermes Dani - $1,430,000
Les Fermes Dani will distribute surplus potatoes to Indigenous communities throughout their distribution network. The project's scope encompasses the packing, transportation, storage, and distribution of surplus potatoes to communities in New Brunswick and across Canada.
Canadian Produce Marketing Association in partnership with network of charitable agencies - $11,429,926
The Canadian Produce Marketing Association will rescue multiple surplus commodities and flow those foods in current and processed formats to vulnerable populations across Canada via its network of charitable agencies and distribution and transport companies. The project's scope encompasses the purchase, further processing, storage, and distribution of surplus to regional charitable partners across Canada.
Green Seafoods Ltd. in partnership with Feed Nova Scotia - $55,230
Green Seafoods Ltd. will purchase 24,000 lbs of vacuum-packed, cooked, frozen blue mussels. The mussels will be distributed to vulnerable populations through Feed Nova Scotia's existing distribution network.
Food Banks Canada - $11,358,529
Food Banks Canada will rescue multiple surplus commodities and flow those foods in current and processed formats to vulnerable populations across Canada via its network of more than 3000 local food banks and community agencies. The project's scope encompasses the purchase, further processing, storage, and distribution of surplus food to regional charitable partners across Canada.
Fisher River Cree Nation - $10,845,048
Fisher River Cree Nation will rescue up to 2.9 million pounds of freshwater fish (walleye) caught from inland lakes of Canada. Working with the Freshwater Fish Marketing Corporation, the surplus product will be distributed to more than 75 Indigenous communities throughout Manitoba, Saskatchewan and the North.
Clearwater Seafood in partnership with Membertou to Mi'kmaq communities -$1,491,072
Clearwater will purchase 150,000 pounds of surplus seafood to distribute in Indigenous communities in Nova Scotia and across Canada. The project includes the harvesting, the processing, storing, and distributing the seafood to Indigenous communities.
La Tablée des Chefs - $1,522,900
La Tablée des Chefs will recover more than 350,000 kg of surplus products to turn into meals by the network of chefs of Les Cuisines Solidaires in Quebec and in major Canadian cities, namely Calgary, Toronto, Ottawa, Vancouver and Winnipeg. The food will be redistributed to vulnerable populations through the Banques Alimentaires du Québec, Second Harvest and other organizations that feed thousands of people in need.
The Food Policy for Canada
The Surplus Food Rescue Program is an emergency measure that the government has created in response to the COVID-19 crisis, which also meets the objectives identified in the Food Policy for Canada.
The Food Policy for Canada seeks to create a healthier and more sustainable food system in Canada; one that builds on the Government's ambitious agenda to support the growth of Canada's farmers and food businesses.
Responsible for one in eight jobs across the country, Canada's food sector is a powerhouse of the economy, particularly in rural communities.
The COVID-19 pandemic has put a lot of pressure on our food system. Now more than ever many vulnerable Canadians are not able to reliably access sufficient amounts of food.
In addition, before the pandemic, it was estimated that more than 11 million metric tons of food are wasted every year – worth nearly $50 billion. The pressures of the pandemic have added to this.
SOURCE Agriculture and Agri-Food Canada
For further information: Jean-Sébastien Comeau, Press Secretary, Office of the Minister of Agriculture and Agri-Food, [email protected], 343-549-2326; Media Relations, Agriculture and Agri-Food Canada, Ottawa, Ontario, 613-773-7972, 1-866-345-7972, [email protected]