Hundreds lined up for a delicious feast made entirely from rescued food at City Hall Park on Thursday.
More than 800 kg of rescued food from local growers, producers and grocery stores was transformed into meals for 500 people. The initiative is based on the Feeding the 5000 global movement that feeds people edible food that would otherwise end up in landfills.
Starr Brainard took advantage of the free lunch which included chicken curry, borscht, bread pudding served with plum sauce and downed with a smoothie.
She said it was easy to support such a great cause.
“Not wasting and feeding people is great. I come from an environmental background so I’m all about not wasting, but if you don’t take care of the people with the environment there’s no point. It’s important to take care of everything,” said Brainard.
Red Deer College’s Cook Apprentice students prepared and served the meals at the event. The food was donated by local producers and grocery stores. It was an experience Instructor Garnett Schoettler believed would benefit students and prepare them for the future.
“It was super good,” said Brainard. “I wasn’t sure what they were going to have, but I was really impressed with the culinary students. It was great, I really enjoyed it.”
Christina Seidel, Executive Director for the Recycling Council of Alberta, said she doesn’t think people realize the extent of food waste. “Over a third of the food produced is actually wasted, whether it’s in the supermarket or in the home. It’s a real shame,” she said.
For Lauren Maris, Environmental Program Specialist for the City of Red Deer, adopting the initiative was a no-brainer.
“It was really important to address food waste. We have people going hungry in this city and people wasting money. It just makes sense that we try to divert food from the waste stream,” said Maris.
Seidel is optimistic that creating awareness on food waste will help eliminate some of the misconceptions about food.
“Expiry dates don’t mean you can’t use food after that date. It just means you have to examine the food to make sure it’s edible. Also, we don’t need to buy huge volumes of food, instead buy food you need to make a meal for that particular day or week. We need to get smarter about how we use food,” said Seidel.
Maris said the event took a lot planning and is excited with how things turned out.
“There’s been a lot of great energy surrounding the event. People have been very anxious to volunteer and step in to help. The support from the partners, the donors and the media have been amazing. We’re super happy,” said Maris.
According to the City of Red Deer, 1,750 portions of food were served and there was no food remaining.