From the Uxbridge Times Journal:

With a little here and a little there, Durham businesses are working to reduce waste and feed the hungry with new food rescue partnerships.

The idea of food rescue, or keeping edible food out of the waste stream and getting it to the people who need it, has been gaining traction in recent years.

“This way the food, which is still very much good food, is going to the people who need it,” said Daniel Bida, project manager at the Recycling Council of Ontario, which has partnered with several businesses in Durham to divert food waste through partnerships and green bin collection.

“On the hierarchy of what we want to do with food we want it to be going into people’s tummies before we look at trying to manage it sustainably,” he said of the pilot program, which is funded by a grant from the Walmart Foundation.

The pilot includes a new partnership between the Oshawa Centre and Feed the Need in Durham, with participating food court restaurants donating left over food that is picked up by Feed the Need every Monday and Wednesday, and dropped off to the Refuge and the Back Door Mission.

“What’s so great about the Oshawa Centre is there’s a cluster of restaurants being managed together, so it gave us the opportunity to aggregate, which for food rescue organizations is extremely valuable, because instead of making seven or eight pick ups, you’re only doing one,” Bida explained, noting many of the restaurants hadn’t started anything on their own because they felt there was never enough left to make a difference, as it was often side dishes or other small items left over at the end of the night.

“The staff that collect the green bins every night were keenly aware there was perfectly edible food ending up in the bin because there was nowhere else to take it. They just needed somewhere to store it until it could be picked up.”

Those donations, in aggregate, can form complete meals that service organizations can then use in whole or to supplement what they are already serving to clients.

“Anything we can do to improve our recycling practices and get involved in the community, we’re on it,” said Craig Walsh, operations manager for the Oshawa Centre, noting he hopes to expand the programs to the mall’s standalone restaurants in the near future.

“It might be a pilot project but it’s working well and it’s something we’ve always wanted to do,” he continued. “We will absolutely continue once the pilot is over.”