Kamloops Food Bank workers are pictured taking reception of food donations last year as part of the FoodMesh network. Food producers and processors are being sought in Chilliwack and the Fraser Valley. (Submitted)

FoodMesh seeks food producers and processors in Chilliwack with surplus to donate

FoodMesh is a pilot project with an online portal diverting food waste to a higher end use

The amount of food wasted every year is nothing short of a crisis.

FoodMesh is working with the Fraser Valley Regional District on a new pilot project to give edible but otherwise imperfect food a second chance.

“Food waste is a crisis,” said FoodMesh founder Jessica Pautsch.

Pautsch has been developing FoodMesh as a community exchange portal for more than a year, uniting farmers, restaurants and other food producers with groups and charities that can repurpose the food.

A whopping one-third of all the food produced every year is thrown out in North America.

“But waste only exists when there is no end user. We want to power a circular food economy,” the FoodMesh founder said.

The concept is giving the food a higher-end use, whether it’s for humans first if it is edible, or if not, it goes to animals, then industry, followed by waste and composting.

FVRD chair Jason Lum said grasping through a FoodMesh presentation just how much food is wasted every year was “mindblowing” and it struck him as “ridiculous.”

With so many ag producers and processors in the Chilliwack area and surrounding communities it makes sense to try to connect with the farm belt.

“This is an innovative idea to deal with one of the biggest challenges we are facing quite frankly, which is food waste,” Lum said.

The idea dovetails with regional district waste diversion goals.

“This project is helping the FVRD region reduce the amount of food waste being disposed of and finding higher uses to benefit environment, our economy and communities,” Lum added.

They’ve just started engagement with Chilliwack and the Fraser Valley, and have connected with eight local community groups and charities. Now they need the food industry and processors.

“We are specifically looking for food producers, and processors with excess supply to either sell or donate,” Pautsch said.

Anything that is listed as a donation on their site typically gets claimed right away. They need more buyers.

“It’s a fantastic opportunity to get great products at a fraction of the cost, while supporting local businesses.”

FoodMesh redistributed 4,100 cases, or about 40 pallets, of mislabelled organic granola bars to wildfire evacuees last summer. It saved the company over $10,000 in tipping fees and the product went to those who needed it. Overall the effort has diverted from the waste stream more than 200,000 kg of food from processors to food service providers, equating to more than 330,000 meals and saving approximately $1.3 million dollars.

They’re putting on a brainstorming session webinar on August 23 at 2 p.m. that will take about 30 minutes, said Pautsch. To attend contact engage@foodmesh.ca to RSVP.

See more at www.foodmesh.ca


@CHWKjourno
jfeinberg@theprogress.com

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