Canada investment brings nutritious surplus food to vulnerable Canadians

From: Agriculture and Agri-Food Canada
From left to right, Julie Marchand, General Manager, Food Banks of Quebec, Marie-Claude Bibeau, Minister of Agriculture and Agri-Food, Claude Dulude, CEO, Nutri Group, Marie-José Mastromonaco, Head of Operations (Québec), Second Harvest, Tania Little, Chief Development and Partnership Officer, Food Banks Canada, and Serge Lefebvre, President, Nutri Group.

The Honourable Marie-Claude Bibeau, Minister of Agriculture and Agri-Food, was at Nutri Group Head office, in Saint-Hyacinthe, Quebec, today to announce details of the first-ever federal government program that will provide millions of pounds of quality, nutritious, surplus food to Canada’s most vulnerable populations.

The innovative Surplus Food Rescue Program is a $50-million federal initiative designed to address urgent, high volume, highly perishable surplus products falling under fruit, vegetables, meat and fish and seafood. These surpluses were created because the COVID-19 pandemic largely shut down the restaurant and hospitality industry, leaving many producers without a key market for their food commodities.

The Program awarded contributions to eight organizations that leverage existing food redistribution and recovery networks and agencies, who will bring the food to every region in the country. Partners, which include leading not-for-profits Food Banks Canada and Second Harvest, and La Tablée des Chefs, will redistribute products such as potatoes, walleye, chicken, turkey, eggs, and more. In total, the program will redistribute approximately 12 million kilograms of surplus food to more food insecure families that would otherwise have been wasted.

For over 30 years, Nutri-Group and its partner producers have been providing consumers in Canada with high-quality sustainable eggs, while helping farmers build stronger businesses and rural communities. Through the Surplus Food Rescue Program, Nutri Group will be providing Food Banks Canada and Second Harvest more than 1 million dozen eggs at cost to ensure Canadians continue to receive fresh, nutritious food during the pandemic. The eggs will be redistributed to many food banks and local food organizations across Canada, notably across the network of moissons in Quebec.

The significant disruptions to Canada’s restaurant and hospitality industry caused by COVID-19 has left many producers with surplus food and no way to get it onto the plates of Canadians. The eight partnerships announced which involve over 100 different organizations will help farmers meet the needs of vulnerable Canadians and recover the cost of their efforts.

The funding provided under the Program is ensuring producers and food processors like Nutri Group are fairly compensated for their work at the cost of production, while growing relationships with community food providers and supporting efforts to reduce food waste.

Quotes

“This is a win-win. Not only are we helping producers who cannot sell their goods to restaurants, but we are also aiding Canadians that have had to seek help from food banks. These eight impressive partnerships between food businesses and not-for-profit organizations, target those food commodities that had significant and urgent surpluses, making a difference both at the level of the producer and the food bank, from coast-to-coast-to-coast.”

– The Honourable Marie-Claude Bibeau, Minister of Agriculture and Agri-Food

“The women and men of Canada’s fish and seafood industry are working hard throughout this pandemic to keep our economy stable and our food supply chain strong. This program will help ensure that none of their effort goes to waste, as we redirect surplus fish and seafood to the Canadians who need it most. By working across sectors to build partnerships, we’re creating a mutually beneficial system that meets two urgent needs at once.”

– The Honourable Bernadette Jordan, Minister of Fisheries, Oceans and the Canadian Coast Guard

“We are very grateful for this investment by the federal government. It leverages the deep supply chain expertise and knowledge the food banking network has, thereby helping those in Canada experiencing food insecurity in the most efficient manner. We are thankful for the opportunity to build deeper partnerships within the agri-food system as well as helping ensure that highly nutritious, available food feeds people in need and that these resources are stewarded responsibly.”

– Chris Hatch, CEO, Foods Banks Canada

“The pandemic has brought unprecedented challenges across the entire food supply chain as well as for Canadians struggling with food access. Funding from the Surplus Food Rescue Program will have positive environmental, economic and social impact by diverting healthy surplus food to communities, instead of becoming landfill waste. As an organization with the dual mission of ‘no waste, no hunger,’ Second Harvest is proud to participate in this integrated response to meet the needs of the agri-food sector and vulnerable Canadians.”

– Lori Nikkel, CEO, Second Harvest

“As a producer-owned company with a presence across the country, we are committed to making eggs available to all Canadian families, the production of which meets the highest standards of quality and animal welfare. The Nutri Group feels challenged in the present context where more families are using food banks and these organizations are struggling to meet demand. As the implementation of this assistance program begins, we would like to salute the measures taken by the federal government, which proposes promising solutions to meet the needs expressed by vulnerable families and to resolve various issues raised within our poultry industry.”

– Serge Lefebvre, President of Nutri Group and egg producer in Montérégie, Québec

Quick facts

  • For over 30 years, Nutri Group has been providing consumers in the region with high-quality sustainable eggs, while helping farmers build stronger businesses and stronger rural communities.

  • Nutri Group includes graders from several provinces, namely Star egg in Saskatchewan, Country Side Farm in Manitoba, Ontario Pride egg in Ontario, Maritime Pride Egg in Nova Scotia, Nutri-Oeuf, Ovale et les Oeufs Richard in Quebec.

  • Second Harvest is a registered charity whose purpose is to rescue and deliver fresh, healthy, surplus food to feed people experiencing hunger across Canada. With an existing network of over 1,750 non-profit partners and a history in food rescue and logistics, Second Harvest is well positioned to purchase, process, and distribute surplus food across Canada.

  • Food Banks Canada is a national not-for-profit organization that works closely with a network of provincial associations, affiliate food banks, and food agencies. With FBC’s coordination efforts, over 3,000 food banks and community agencies distribute food to Canada’s vulnerable populations, with 1.1 million people served in 2019.

  • According to Statistics Canada, one in seven Canadians indicated that they live in a household where there was food insecurity over a one month period during the COVID-19 pandemic.

  • In 2019, there were 1.1 million visits to food banks and 5.6 million meals served on average each month.

  • This announcement builds on the measures we have introduced to keep Canada’s agri-workforce strong, including:

    • $100 million for food banks and local food organizations to help Canadians experiencing food insecurity, which is helping serve an estimated 2 million Canadians through 1,800 different community-level food organizations.
    • Over $77 million in funding for the Emergency Processing Fund (EPF), whose objectives include helping companies implement changes to safeguard the health and safety of workers and their families.
    • $25 million through Nutrition North to ensure food security for Canada’s most vulnerable
    • Travel exemptions for all temporary foreign workers, including seasonal agricultural workers and fish/seafood workers.
    • $50 million in funding for the Mandatory Isolation Support Program for Temporary Foreign Workers to help the farming, fish harvesting, and food production and processing sectors cover the incremental costs associated with the mandatory 14-day isolation period imposed under the Quarantine Act on temporary foreign workers upon entering Canada.

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