Blog: Edmonton Gleaners Association – Acknowledging over 40 years of Food Rescue
By Edmonton’s Foodbank
Food waste is a growing concern in our society with research indicating as much as 32% of food is avoidably wasted after it is produced. While food waste is a new and growing concern for many, Edmonton’s Food Bank has been on the forefront of reducing avoidable food waste for over 40 years. To the Food Bank, this is surplus food that can be put to an important use in the community – helping people in need.
Formed in 1981 as the Edmonton Gleaners Association, the organization is better known as Edmonton’s Food Bank. “To glean” means to gather by patient harvest and it has been reducing food waste by rescuing and redistributing food from manufacturers, farmers and retailers. Rescued food is an integral part of operations at Edmonton’s Food Bank, making up approximately 60% of the food distributed by the Food Bank and providing much of the fresh produce, meat and dairy available for food hamper programs and agency partners. Between January and August of 2022, Edmonton’s Food Bank rescued or gleaned over 2.2 million kilograms of food. Six days a week, Food Bank vehicles are on the road collecting food that cannot be sold for various reasons such as over production, cosmetic issues or shelf life concerns.
This food is then given to people facing food insecurity and to agencies serving our community’s vulnerable populations. The Food Bank is a central warehouse and referral center for over 300 agencies, schools, food depots and community organizations providing a diverse range of food to people in need in Edmonton.
Food rescued by Edmonton’s Food Bank helps local agencies provide meals and snacks to those they support, while allowing them to concentrate more time and funds on the important services they offer.
In addition to assisting local agencies, Edmonton’s Food Bank serves an average of 25,000 individuals per month through its hamper programs, with this number jumping to over 34,000 in recent months. These numbers are the highest in the Food Bank’s history and make rescued food even more vital to Food Bank operations. Food hampers include fresh fruit and vegetables, cereal, bread, and dairy products that are rescued ensuring people have healthy food on their tables and lessening the stress of stretching their limited budgets.
Edmonton’s Food Bank works closely with Alberta Health Services to ensure that all food they distribute meets the strictest food safety and quality standards. Edmonton’s Food Bank believes all individuals have the right to access quality, safe food.
The issue of surplus food, or food waste, is complex and requires logistical support and thoughtful planning. Edmonton’s Food Bank has expertise built over 40 years in collecting, transporting, storing and distributing rescued food. It welcomes the opportunity to work with others to find creative and new responses to surplus food and helping people in need.
For more information on the Gleaning or Food Rescue Program of Edmonton’s Food Bank, please ask for Sieg or Susan at Edmonton’s Food Bank (780-425-2133).