‘Dumpster dining’ event puts spotlight on food waste

Waste not, want not.

Waste not, want not.

The City of Red Deer will serve up 500 plates of food using ingredients that would have otherwise gone to the trash at a Feeding the 500 event on Sept. 22 at City Hall Park.

It is Red Deer’s version of the international Feeding the 5000 campaign, which is a global celebratory feast that shines the light on edible food that is thrown away.

Lauren Maris, the city’s Environmental Program specialist, said the idea is to create awareness and promote action on food that is tossed away every year.

“Think imperfect fruits and vegetables or stuff that is close to an expiry date but still safe to eat,” said Maris.

“This is about education about the potential solutions to food waste for individual consumers and the industrial section. There are so many meals going to waste when people are going hungry.”

The first 500 people will be served.

About 170,000 tonnes of good, edible food, equivalent to 300 million meals, wind up in Canadian landfills every year, according to the National Zero Waste Council. No statistics were available for Red Deer.

The event is still in the early planning stage, said Maris.

The city will ask local producers and retailers to contribute the food. It will also reach out to partners and agencies that deal with poverty and hunger to get the word out about the lunch.

The city is teaming up with Red Deer College’s Cook Apprentice Program and the Recycling Council of Alberta on the project. More partners are expected to come on board.

Vancouver has hosted a Feed the 5000 event where rescued food was on the menu for the homeless population and those down on their luck.

Taking action on food waste aligns with the the city’s Waste Management Master Plan and connects with the Green Cart Pilot (organics) project.

Organic waste, largely food, produces three per cent of Canada’s greenhouse gas emissions, according to the National Zero Waste Council.

Red Deer has a 812 kg per capita disposal rate compared to the Canadian average of 777 kg per capita, and the Alberta average of 1,122 kg per capita. Red Deer’s goal is to get its number to 500 kg per capita by 2023.

Earlier this week, council endorsed the National Zero Waste Council’s lobbying efforts for federal tax incentives for food producers, suppliers and retailers to donate unsold edible food.

The resolution will also be forwarded to the Federation of Canadian Municipalities to urge the Canadian government to implement the tax proposal.

crhyno@bprda.wpengine.com