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Fredericton’s Greener Village wants to save food from being dumped in landfill, feed those in need

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It’s something he dreamt up five years ago.

Now Alex Boyd is months, and a few million dollars, away from seeing his idea become reality.

The Greener Village food bank chief executive officer is looking to build a perishable food rescue centre, saving food nearing expiration into frozen food that can be sent to more than 64 food organizations across New Brunswick.

“A tractor trailer with carrots perhaps would be a huge asset to the food bank. But if the food bank doesn't have the ability to move that product before it rots, that asset actually flips into a liability that now needs to be to be handled through waste, needs to be dumped,” he explained.

A collection of food donations is pictured. (Laura Brown/CTV Atlantic)And he doesn’t want to waste any of it. So, if they haven’t been able to move the food quick enough into the hands of clients, the centre will save it from spoiling.

Employees will cut up and freeze-dry the product, distributing more than $4 million-worth of food to shelters, community kitchens and school lunch programs – to name a few – and diverting tons of food from landfills.

“How can we be wasting, as a country, $30 billion-worth of food and food banks all across the country struggling to provide enough resources for people who are really struggling?” he said.

It’s a concept few are doing, according to Food Banks Canada, who’s partnering and supporting Greener Village on the endeavor.

“This is really unique,” said Food Banks Canada CEO Kirstin Beardsley. “So what Greener Village is proposing with the perishable food rescue centre is something that we've seen on a smaller scale at food banks across the country. But putting forward a centre that could rescue and redistribute this amount of perishable food is really beyond what we're seeing in other parts of the country.”

The Greener Village food bank in Fredericton. (Laura Brown/CTV Atlantic)It's no secret the need for affordable food is up across Canada. Greener Village now serves more than 2,000 families each month – a 75 per cent increase in two years.

“So this is the kind of innovative, forward-thinking planning and program that we need to see as food banks, if we're going to meet the challenges of the years ahead,” Beardsley said.

Boyd dreams of the day he can call a local farmer and order a year’s worth of veggies without worrying about their shelf-life.

“We're going to take money that we were going to spend on canned product, and instead spend on local farmers to create product that we can then process,” he said.

They’ll be launching a fundraising campaign on May 8 in Fredericton, where Michael McCain, chairman of Maple Leaf Foods, and Blair Hyslop, co-CEO of Mrs. Dunsters Inc., will be speaking at the event.

The centre will create several permanent jobs. The hope is for construction to begin by the end of the summer. 

For more New Brunswick news visit our dedicated provincial page.

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