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Surplus Food Rescue Program launched by federal government


June 16, 2020, Ottawa, Ont. – Agriculture and Agri-Food Minister Marie-Claude Bibeau has launched the $50-million Surplus Food Rescue Program which aims to move surplus food commodities such as potatoes and other horticulture, fish and seafood, and meat through the food system as efficiently as possible to help vulnerable Canadians.

COVID-19 caused significant disruptions to areas of Canada’s food system, as it forced the near closure of the restaurant and hospitality industry in Canada and the United States. Some producers across Canada have been left with surpluses of quality food, while increased demand from grocery stores alone is not expected to clear the inventory before it spoils. At the same time, the pandemic has increased the demand for food from food banks and other food security organizations in communities across Canada.

The Surplus Food Rescue Program has two core objectives:

  • Provide assistance to organizations serving vulnerable populations to acquire and process surplus commodities and food that would otherwise be lost or destroyed and distribute them to populations in need; and
  • Connect surplus food commodities to vulnerable populations to avoid food waste.

The program aims to ensure the surplus food reaches vulnerable populations in Canada through the purchase, processing, transportation and redistribution of surplus food. The program is designed to rescue surplus food that may be fresh, frozen inventory or in need of further processing due to its highly perishable nature.

“The Government of Canada is working around the clock to respond to the impacts of the COVID-19 on farmers, agri-food businesses and all Canadians,” said Bibeau. “The pandemic has caused significant fluctuations in food demand and supply, resulting in surplus food across our country. We are working hard to help manage and redirect this surplus food to those who need it during this difficult time.”

Applications are being accepted until July 15, beginning immediately.

The Surplus Food Rescue Program will award contributions to organizations (industry groups, processors, distributors, food serving agencies, regional and municipal governments and agencies (can include schools or school boards) who:

  • can acquire and move the most surplus product (must identify amount to be moved);
  • use the most cost-effective approach (for acquiring food or product at or below the cost of production or through donations as applicable);
  • use the most cost-effective approach for processing (only process if cannot be distributed otherwise) and at minimal cost;
  • are most efficient, from wholesale purchase to food serving agencies (drawing down on surplus quickly);
  • can make sure food reaches the most vulnerable and remote communities, especially northern communities;
  • have partnerships already established along the supply chain, including food serving agencies.


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