FoodMesh, a food waste recovery pilot project started in Chilliwack, with one of the participants, Don Armstrong, Chilliwack Food Bank co-ordinator, photographed on Feb. 22, 2019. (Jennifer Feinberg/ Chilliwack Progress file)

FoodMesh, a food waste recovery pilot project started in Chilliwack, with one of the participants, Don Armstrong, Chilliwack Food Bank co-ordinator, photographed on Feb. 22, 2019. (Jennifer Feinberg/ Chilliwack Progress file)

FoodMesh taking its emergency food recovery project nationwide

Pilot project in Chilliwack helped show that food surpluses could be diverted to charities in need

It’s about redistributing surplus food to where it’s needed the most amid a global pandemic.

Vancouver-based tech startup FoodMesh is leading a new collaborative project to take on food security challenges and food waste across Canada.

“The COVID-19 outbreak has created severe volatility in the food supply chain, creating an unprecedented amount of food left in farmers fields, or at processing plants due to cancelled contracts,” said Jessica Regan, CEO of FoodMesh, in a release.

FoodMesh launched the pilot version of the food-recovery project in Chilliwack in 2018, partnering with Fraser Valley Regional District (FVRD) and service providers, to give edible food a second chance with the help of technology.

READ MORE: Seeking surplus food for rescue

Now they’re building on the software platform developed for the pilot, and scaling the project into a national food distribution network with the help of a broad-based consortium.

“It’s a positive development,” said FVRD chair Jason Lum, about the scalability of the project. “The FVRD was an early adopter helping to prove out the whole concept that an oversupply of food could effectively be diverted to non-profits and charities in this way.”

It’s fairly “uncommon” for a local government to get involved in tech startups and pilot projects, Lum said, acknowledging the forward thinking of FVRD staff that led to its participation in the pilot.

Identifying the highest and best use of the surplus food is “good for the environment, for the economy and it’s good for communities,” Lum added.

So much food is being discarded, Regan noted, but at the same time food banks and relief organizations have been reporting a significant spike in demand from clients in need.

“This project is about using technology and network effects to bring stability and predictability to accessing nutritious food in a time of uncertainty, while ensuring our food suppliers are compensated fairly for their work.” added Regan.

The FoodMesh ‘marketplace’ will be open to any food business, charity or farmer, serving as the online portal to buy, sell, donate or claim unsold surplus food. Food retailers can sign up to have all of their unsold food collected by charities.

The project budget is $2.2 million, and the food recovery network is expected to rescue an additional 1.5 million meals per month that will not end up in the landfill.

Consortium participants aside from FVRD include: United Way Lower Mainland, Overwaitea Food Group, Buy Low Food Group, Daiya Foods, Vancity EnviroFund, Metro Vancouver, National Zero Waste Council, City of Richmond, Vancouver Coastal Health, Fraser Health, Traction on Demand, and Salesforce.

Co-funded in part by the Digital Technology Supercluster, Vancity EnviroFund and industry participants, the new project led by FoodMesh will bring together the food sector, non-profits, and governments, in the intelligent matching and delivering of surplus food sources, and service providers, with an eye on cost recovery for farmers and suppliers.

For more on the emergency food distribution network, or how to participate (either as a supplier or recipient of food), see www.foodmesh.ca/supercluster

READ MORE: Diverting food to the hungry and hurting


Do you have something to add to this story, or something else we should report on? Email:
jfeinberg@theprogress.com


@CHWKjourno
Like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter.

Want to support local journalism during the pandemic? Make a donation here.

Foodfood securityPoverty

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

Tom Jackson and bassist Kirby Barber in a trailer for "The Huron Carole," from video posted to youtube.com.
Tom Jackson’s ‘Huron Carole’ concert in White Rock goes virtual to feed hungry Canadians

Surrey broadcast date of Blue Frog-recorded show is Friday, Dec. 11, to benefit Surrey Food Bank

Pastry chef Eric Fernandez stands alongside some of his many creations at Popup Patisserie, a pop-up pastry shop on 176th Street that will be open until the end of December. (Photo: Malin Jordan)
Popup Patisserie opens in Cloverdale

Handmade holiday pastries shop located on 176th Street

The COVID-19 test centre at Peace Arch Hospital is located on the building’s south side. (Tracy Holmes photo)
South Surrey woman calls for consistency in COVID-19 post-test messaging

‘Could we just get one thing straight?’ asks Deb Antifaev

Fentanyl test strips are designed to work in seconds and give a person a negative or positive sign that fentanyl is present in a substance. It also works with other analogues such as carfentanil. (Photo: ASHLEY WADHWANI)
21 people died of overdoses in Surrey in October

Provincewide, more than five people died a day from overdoses

(Photo: Amy Reid)
VIDEO: 2020 Community Leader Awards recognize Surrey’s unsung heroes

They don’t often receive recognition and don’t necessarily have a high profile in the community

(File photo)
Alberta woman charged after allegedly hitting boy with watermelon at Okanagan campsite

Police say a disagreement among friends at an Adams Lake campsite turned ugly

Court of Appeal for British Columbia in Vancouver. (File photo: Tom Zytaruk)
B.C. woman loses appeal to have second child by using late husband’s sperm

Assisted Human Reproduction Act prohibits the removal of human reproductive material from a donor without consent

B.C. projects targeting the restoration of sockeye salmon stocks in the Fraser and Columbia Watersheds will share in $10.9 million of federal funding to protect species at risk. (Kenny Regan photo)
13 projects protecting B.C. aquatic species at risk receive $11 million in federal funding

Salmon and marine mammals expected to benefit from ecosystem-based approach

Krista Macinnis displays the homework assignment that her Grade 6 daughter received on Tuesday. (Submitted photo)
B.C. mom angry that students asked to list positive stories about residential schools

Daughter’s Grade 6 class asked to write down 5 positive stories or facts

Join Black Press Media and Do Some Good
Join Black Press Media and Do Some Good

Pay it Forward program supports local businesses in their community giving

Barrels pictured outside Oliver winery, Quinta Ferreira, in May. (Phil McLachlan - Black Press Media)
B.C. Master of Wine reflects on industry’s teetering economic state

Pandemic, for some wine makers, has been a blessing in disguise. For others, not so much.

An employee of the Adventure Hotel was taken to hospital on Nov. 20 after she confronted a customer of Empire Coffee about not wearing a mask. File photo.
Nelson hotel employee suffers heart attack after being assaulted in anti-mask incident

An accountant at the Adventure Hotel is in hospital in Kelowna

Most Read