Free lunch to shed light on food waste

It has been estimated that more than $30 billion worth of food is wasted in Canada each year.

It has been estimated that more than $30 billion worth of food is wasted in Canada each year.

In North America, about 30 per cent of perfectly edible fruits and vegetables don’t even make it on to store shelves before they are chucked because they don’t make the beauty grade.

To draw attention to statistics like these, Red Deer City Hall Park will be the site for a Feed 500 event on Sept. 22 from 11:30 p.m. to 1:30 p.m. or until the food runs out. Modelled after a Feed 5,000 initiative launched in Britain, the event turns landfill-bound food into delicious free meals.

Red Deer College cook apprenticeship students will use their skills to transfer imperfect produce and foods nearing their best-before date or which have been mislabelled into a giant free feast.

Garnett Schoettler, cook apprentice program instructor, said a poultry farm has already offered to donate about 120 chickens but they are still looking for other donations.

“So far, we have a lot of smaller farms and gardeners who have said they are going to donate something,” said Schoettler. “But we really don’t know what is until a few days before the event, so that’s where it’s going to be a bit challenging.”

Apprentice cooks hope to create three or four different dishes to provide a variety.

“We’re really looking to try to find things that are destined for the landfill but that are certainly still good to eat.”

Dairy products, a day or two past their best before date, are often perfectly fine. Another likely menu source are “ugly vegetables,” those misshapen products that don’t have the looks but haven’t lost their taste.

Sept. 22 is also celebrated as World Car Free Day, which is aimed at encouraging people to drive less and walk and cycle more.

Red Deer Transit is doing its part by offering free transit all day. Bike corrals will be set up at City Hall Park and residents are encouraged to ditch their cars and find another way of getting to the Feed 500 event.