Food Stash is Vancouver’s newest food hero
Over 190,000 tons of food is wasted in Metro Vancouver every year – more than 50 per cent are quality items that could’ve been eaten.
Founded in September 2016, Food Stash is striving to reduce the staggering amount of waste by rescuing neglected food. Unsold and slighted items from farms, markets and cafés are picked up by volunteer drivers and delivered on the same day to charities across Vancouver. The food is more than adequate to be consumed and the redistribution diverts them from contributing to the harmful environmental issues often associated with excess food waste.
For David Schein, founder of Food Stash, what makes the initiative so unique is that it deals with fresh and perishable food. These can sometimes be the hardest to acquire and redistribute, but the benefits of fresh food are significant. “Vancouverites should be able to access fresh and healthy fruit and veggies,” Schein said. “While we do receive a little bit of dried goods, 50 per cent of the food we pick up are fresh food and veggies. A quarter has been bread and eight per cent are dairy.” Since its inception six months ago, Food Stash is now associated with 25 retailer donors and delivering to 20 charities. Schein is continuously motivated by knowing that the food is being used and he enjoys the support from the individuals who receive the products.
One of Schein’s favourite stories during his work on Food Stash happened just before Christmas on Dec. 23. He delivered various food items, which included seven stacks of ribs, to a government subsidized housing complex. To his pleasant surprise, the 50 residents got together for a BBQ, perfectly capturing the spirit of giving and community in the holidays. “There is so much food waste. When we get more donators involved, I want to expand to start delivering weekly boxes of fresh produce to food insecure families throughout the city as well,” he said.
Indeed, Schein has many ideas for the future of Food Stash. Along with expanding charities and donors, Schein aspires to incorporate a kitchen and cold storage to elongate shelf life. Food Stash now receives produce from Fraser Valley Farms and come summer months, the number of produce will increase, so adequate storing will be important to preserve the supply. Sustaining projects like Food Stash will promote and fulfil the mandate for Metro Vancouver to be the greenest city by 2020 and zero waste by 2040.
Essential to Food Stash’s sustainability is passing on the knowledge of food waste. Schein has partnered with local high schools and taken both students and teachers along for the pickup and delivery processes. “They get to see the food that we’re getting and they are always surprised by the quality,” he said. “While we’re driving, we talk about food waste and things that they can do at home to help. It’s a lot of fun and its good for young adults to see and learn about this early, so they continue to be active and aware as they get older.”
Food Stash is entirely run by volunteers who organize one pickup and delivery a week to subsidize the work. Schein explained that the responsibilities are about an hour a week of commitment and it’s designed to be convenient for anyone who wants to join in the continued success of Food Stash. Donating, volunteering or making suggestions for charities or contributors can all be done through Food Stash’s website, Foodstash.ca.
Food waste is one of the worst contributors to pollution and other environmental concerns, but thanks to the effort and support of Food Stash, plenty of goods are being rescued and given to those in need. Not only does this type of work relieve hunger and stress for Vancouverites, but its making a promising contribution to our environmental footprint.
Check out Food Stash’s Instagram at: @foodstashfoundation.
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