What do you get when 222 grocers’ partner with a network of 1,200 food banks in Ontario?
The equivalent of 2.5 million meals distributed to food bank visitors!
In partnership with METRO, Feed Ontario launched the One More Bite pilot project in 2018. It was developed to recover unsold, quality food products and redistribute food to local food banks to help those facing hunger. Its success is evident by the partnerships that have grown over the past four years in communities across the Ontario.
In 2021, 56 Feed Ontario member food banks received more than 2.6 million pounds, the equivalent of 2.5 million meals, of unsold products including meat, prepared meals, dairy, and bakery goods from more than 220 METRO and Food Basics stores. While programs like these, which redirect healthy food that would otherwise go to waste, are not a solution to hunger, they are vital in helping address the immediate needs of our communities while we work towards true solutions to hunger and poverty.
Here’s what participating Feed Ontario food banks shared when asked what they appreciate the most about the incredible partnership with their local METRO and Food Basics stores in the One More Bite program.
1. STEADY SUPPLIES
Food banks are relied on to provide emergency food to those who need them. More than ever, having a steady supply of pantry staples and fresh and frozen foods, including breads, bakery products, dairy, and produce, is crucial to their ability to open their doors each day. Food banks participating in the One More Bite program acknowledge they now have a much steadier supply of food that is picked up from their local store. Much of the food they receive is frozen, which works great for many food banks that are becoming more and more equipped with increased refrigeration space.
2. COST SAVINGS
Food banks typically offer a hamper of pre-selected food or a shopping model where visitors can make their own choices. Either way, there is a prescribed inventory based on family size that considers medical and cultural dietary needs. When food banks do not receive donations of products that are on those inventory lists, they often have to purchase those items. One More Bite is helping alleviate budget pressures, now more than ever with the risings costs we are facing. One food bank reported that prior to the food recovery program, they were purchasing a large quantity of eggs every week and thanks to the local METRO and Food Basics stores, they have not had to purchase eggs in over 2 years!
3. NUTRITIOUS FOOD
Feed Ontario member food banks are committed to providing fresh, nutritious food to ensure a balanced diet for people accessing food banks. By working with local METRO and Food Basics stores, One More Bite is providing fresh fruits and vegetables, meat, and dairy products that might not otherwise be available. One food bank even told us they are now able to supply food bank visitors with double the usual amount of dairy!
Let’s admit it, we all enjoy variety and appreciate treating ourselves and our families to a special treat now and then. Food bankers love seeing the joy from visitors when they get to provide a little extra something for them to enjoy. One More Bite provides many items that are not on our standard inventory lists, and they are gratefully appreciated by everyone.
5. PARTNERSHIPS BEYOND EMERGENCY FOOD
It takes a village to support a community food bank. Volunteers, individual donors, local companies, and dedicated staff all have important roles in relieving hunger in our communities. METRO and Food Basic stores have become vital partners to food banks. Some stores are collecting and donating gift cards that offer visitors flexibility to fulfill the food needs of households. Other stores are stepping up to provide backup refrigerator and freezer space in emergency situations, like power outages, potentially preventing thousands of pounds of food from going to waste.
Moving forward, METRO remains committed to continuing its fight against food insecurity. The One More Bite program will continue to rollout to more stores, meaning more successful partnerships and more food being distributed to families facing hunger.