June Muir, CEO of the Unemployed Help Centre, speaks during a press event announcing the opening of the Farm to Food program, Thursday, August 8, 2019.
Dax Melmer / Windsor Star
Rather than seeing unused crops sent to a landfill or tilled back into the soil, a new program is cooking up millions of pounds of saved produce into soup for hungry residents across the province.“We’re taking additional produce and bringing it back to our Caesars Windsor Cares community kitchen, we’re breaking it down, we’re making it into a healthy, nutritional soup,” June Muir, CEO of the Unemployed Help Centre, said Thursday at the official launch of the Farm to Food” program.“We’re getting it into the bowls of hungry adults and children to eat throughout Windsor and Essex County — and then it’s also going up the highway.” The Unemployed Help Centre, in collaboration with Feed Ontario and Food Banks Canada, received a $750,000 grow grant from the Ontario Trillium Foundation for the three-year pilot project established as a direct response to food waste and food insecurity issues — diverting and saving millions of pounds of produce. “There is a lot of produce. And I shouldn’t say it needs to be rescued — some of it, there’s nothing wrong with it — there’s just so much,” Muir said. “So we get it and we’re making soup.” Many communities from coast to coast are watching what’s here in Windsor with eager anticipation Since the project was announced in December, Muir said they’ve averaged 30,000 servings of soup for the local community. “To date, the team has made over 185,000 servings of soup which has been distributed to more than 50 agencies locally including after school programs, summer day camps, soup kitchens and food banks,” she said. “Our goal is to prepare and distribute over two million seven-ounce servings of soup during the project, which will serve over 500,000 individuals across Ontario.” Muir said the program has already rescued 50,000 pounds of produce. Frozen servings of different types of soup including roasted red pepper, curry potato, broccoli cheddar, tomato and carrot will be shipped across the province. “I think it’s great because you don’t realize how many people this is really going to touch,” she said. “How awesome would that be if the rest of the country could do this at some point? Because I’m sure other places have produce as well, and what a way to feed people.”Along with the grant, Unifor National and the Ontario Regional Council stepped in as additional sponsors with $150,000 for the program.“It’s common sense taking good, quality, healthy food that would usually be sent to landfills or used for biofuels and instead we get it to those who are hungry,” said Unifor Local 444 president Dave Cassidy. “It’s a program we all should be proud of.”Farm to Food will offer the locally made soup to 1,200 hunger relief agencies in 130 communities across the province.“It’s estimated that over the course of a year Canada throws out more than 11 million tons of food that could otherwise have been eaten. During that same year, more than a million people visit a food bank in Ontario with one in three being a child,” said Feed Ontario interim executive director Amanda Colella-King. “To have so much good food going to waste and so many people facing hunger it just doesn’t make sense, which is why Farm to Food is so important.”Related
As a symbolic gesture, attendees threw a stone in a large soup pot to mark the launch of the program.“Many communities from coast to coast are watching what’s here in Windsor with eager anticipation,” said Colella-King. “This program is one of the first of it’s kind in Canada and its success will not only impact our own community but will pave the way for similar success in communities across the country.”firstname.lastname@example.org