What is Food Recovery?

Loaves & Fishes Food Recovery Program has dramatically changed the way Loaves & Fishes delivers services across Vancouver Island. Food Recovery has shown us that there is an abundance of food available in the community that doesn't need to be wasted unnecessarily. In 2011, the year before we started doing Food Recovery, we sourced and distributed approximately $800,000 worth of food annually. In 2016 we sourced and distributed $3,000,000 worth of food. In 2023 we sourced and distributed $8,200,000 worth of food. This increase is largely due to our Food Recovery Program and our position as the National Food Food Sharing System Distribution Hub for all of Vancouver Island. Loaves & Fishes has been recognized as a provincial leader in Food Recovery and as result was asked to help Food Banks BC develop their Food Recovery Guide to help other food banks in the province set up a food recovery programs of their own. 

So what is Food Recovery? Food Recovery is a program that collects all surplus food regardless of quality and redirects it to the highest and best use. This surplus food is primarily fruit, vegetables, meats, bread and dairy items that grocery retailers have traditionally thrown out to the dumpster. By accepting all food, a Food Recovery Program is able to offer retailers a cost effective, socially responsible and environmentally friendly way of disposing of food they are not able to sell. 

Loaves & Fishes Food Recovery Program picks up surplus food from 33 food recovery partners in Nanaimo, Ladysmith, Nanoose, Port Alberni, Comox and beyond. We collect from 16 of these grocery partners 7 days a week and the others several times a week or monthly. We also collect and accept pet food to distribute when available. We provide the regular grocery partners with clean sanitized, colour coded donation bins to ensure their operations can be efficiently run. Our fleet of refrigerated trucks are on the road 7 days a week, 364 days a year collecting food from our Food Recovery partners. The only day we close is Christmas Day!

There is simply no reason for food to be going to waste while there are people in need who can use it. 

Once food is collected, our volunteers sort it according to the standards of Food Banks Canada to ensure that only the highest quality food is made available to people. Food that does not meet these standards is made available to local farmers for their animals or composts. Whatever is not taken by farmers is composted through local industrial compost facilities, or as a last step taken to the landfill. 

This shows how Food Recovery works! Since 2012 we have diverted over 21,050,000 pounds of food from landfills!

Despite our best efforts, sometimes food that is surplus and unfit for humans has to be disposed of. However, through a partnership with Convertus, we're working together to reduce waste and create a more sustainable future.