A new initiative is helping reduce landfill waste and Sudbury farmers are calling it a win-win situation.
“This is an initiative that started by taking waste or produce that is no longer salable to the public and allowing farmers to compost it or feed it to their animals,” said Melissa Whitmell, a Sudbury hobby farmer and member of Loop Resource. .
Loop Resource is a pan-Canadian initiative and the idea behind it is simple. Instead of food that can’t be sold or donated ending up in the landfill, local grocery stores and local farmers can team up to help feed hungry animals.
Shayna Smith’s daughter feeds the goats food diverted from landfills by grocery stores. February 1/22 (Alana Pickrell/CTV Northern Ontario)
“Don’t put food in the trash,” said Jaime White, Loop Resource’s new director of projects. “Feed people by selling the food we grow. Feed people by supporting people in our community who can’t afford groceries right now and if the things you have can’t do the one of two things… send it back to the farms and we’ll turn it into food. That’s a farmer’s superpower.
It was first launched four and a half years ago in British Columbia and White said it is in most provinces in Canada except for New Brunswick, Quebec and the Territories of the North West.
“As a farm we are working on ways to grow what we do, and one of the barriers to that was the cost of feed. So when we found out the shops were unable to find good accommodation for things they couldn’t sell or donate to charity, that was a no-brainer and we were actually surprised at the amount of legal insurance and contracts required,” White said. .
Adding: “But once we realized that was what it would take, we decided to build a system to make it safe for shops, to make it easy, yes, and to allow farms to benefit without take on additional risks or additional costs for farms.”
Currently, a handful of grocery stores in Ontario are involved, and White said the need for more is strong.
“We have been contacted by farms in Ontario since the first months of the program in British Columbia and we have kept them on our waiting list hoping that one day we will find stores near these farms to match them”, White said.
“If you own a grocery store or know of a grocery store that would like to do something better for the environment, they need to be sure, which their lawyers approve of, but they want to support local farms and they want to pay less. than the garbage…usually saving money and doing the right thing gets you to a yes and if you have a store or know of a store it’s a simple go to the website click on get involved.
In Sudbury, the Real Canadian Superstore has been involved with Loop since November 2021. In a statement to CTV News, Loblaw Public Relations said, “With the help of LOOP, the Sudbury Superstore has eliminated its usual number of food waste shipments destined for discharge of almost 50%”.
Adding, “The LOOP program is just one of many innovative initiatives we’ve used to help reduce operational food waste across our businesses by 86%, five years ahead of our original target date.”
Whitmell has been on the program since November and said it helps feed her horses and chickens.
“The cost of food is one of the main ones,” she said. “When I heard we were diverting products from the landfill, it was a no-brainer. It was a win, a win.”
Adding: “We get a pick up day and we get our truck and we go to the store where they tell us to go and we just go to the loading dock and pick it up.”
“We bring it home, we sort everything, we take it out of the packaging, we put it in our bins and then we have food for the week,” she explained.
Geese eat products that are no longer salable in grocery stores. February 1/22 (Alana Pickrell/CTV Northern Ontario)
Just down the road, Shayna Smith is also enjoying treats from the grocery store, feeding a variety of animals from pigs, goats and even emus.
“They have their typical grain and hay and everything, but they also get a lot of produce,” she said. “Fruits, vegetables, dairy products and also bread and all that and they really love it.”
Since moving to the farm, Smith has rescued quite a mix of animals and she says this program really helps.
“It’s extra food for them, it’s cheaper for me, and they really appreciate the extra treats all the time,” she said.
Loop Resource’s end goal is not to exist in Canada, White said, but as long as there is food in the trash, the group will be there to try to help.
“The reality is that one grocery store supports thousands of families, and they’re really, really good at not littering,” he said. “The problem is that our system doesn’t even handle that small amount of waste in a very elegant way. It ends up in the trash and a landfill is bad for the environment and it’s bad for our community. It’s better if we process it into food locally.”