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VIDEO: Grocery giant aims to eliminate food waste

Over the years, grocery stores have wasted a lot of food. Save-On-Foods wants to bring that to an end. Today, the company announced its company-wide strategy to get to zero waste. President Darrel Jones laid-out the plan at the Orchard Plaza store this morning.

Save-On acknowledged that food waste is a critical issue in Canada, with almost 60% of food produced in the country wasted annually. Today's announcement comes months after the company began implementing its new systems in select cities like Chilliwack and Kelowna. "We have been composting perishable waste for a number of years, but we knew we could do better," said Jones. "We have now rolled out our food waste diversion program in 100 of our 170 stores."

A central part of the program is partnerships with food banks, including the Central Okanagan Community Food Bank. "It absolutely has made a big difference," said Lenetta Perry from the Kelowna-based food bank, "our clients have been able to receive more meat, produce as well as dairy." And it's not all about best before dates. "It could be something like a six-pack of yogurt. Maybe one of the yogurts has opened. Well they can't sell that six-pack, but there's still five perfectly sealed yogurts that we can make available," said Perry.

Save-On said in just the first three months of the pilot program the company has provided the equivalent of 250,000 meals to those in need. The executive director of Food Banks BC was in Kelowna for the announcement. She calls it a game-changer. "Now fresh, healthy foods like fruits, vegetables, meat, poultry and dairy are made available to every person at risk of hunger rather than ending up as waste."

Food that can't be used by food banks is directed to farms as animal feed, and failing that, surplus food can be composted for agricultural use. Already over 400 small family farms throughout BC have become involved.

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