Quantcast
Food

Toronto's Pay-What-You-Can Grocery Store Feeds the Hungry, Not the Landfill

The Feed It Forward Grocery Store—Toronto's first pay-what-you-can food market, bakery and cafe—lets customers pay only what they can afford.

The store, located on 3324 Dundas St. West, opened earlier this month thanks to the efforts of chef Jagger Gordon and his team of volunteers.


The food is donated from the region's grocery stores, farmers and bakeries, distributors and restaurants. The produce might be a little bruised or misshapen, and the pre-made foods might be near its sell-by date, but it's perfectly edible. On Sunday, the store offered organic vegetables from Whole Foods, as the chef touted in a Facebook live post.

"It's a simple procedure of taking those trucks that are destined for landfills and hijacking them and giving them to people in need," Gordon told The Canadian Press. "There's more of a demand for food that is needed by Canadians than people know."

The grocery store has diverted as much as 492 lbs. a day from landfills, Gordon estimated to the Guardian.

Gordon, who heads the not-for-profit Feed It Forward program to help food-insecure Canadians, also opened a pop-up soup bar for eight months last year with the same pay-what-you-can concept.

On his website, Gordon points out that 40 percent of all food produced in Canada ends up in landfills, a price tag of $31 billion every year. It's an astonishing figure considering the 1 in 7 (or 4.9 million) people in the country who live in poverty.

"As a chef and caterer, I face this food-waste reality every day and in 2014 I reached a point where I could no longer stand by and let this happen with a clear conscience," he writes. That same year, he launched the "Feed Families" frozen food program that provides qualifying families with meals donated from Toronto food producers.

Shoppers at the Feed it Forward Grocery Store may only take one day's worth of food for their families and list the items they picked up. They are also asked to leave their name and contact information.

Gordon told the Guardian: "What I have noticed is people look into the baskets, try to calculate what it is and then say, 'is this acceptable?' And I just say, 'are you kidding me? Whatever you can give is fine, but if you are unable to make a donation, we won't let anyone go hungry.' I wouldn't even ask for a penny from anyone if I could, but it's a social enterprise."

At the end of the business day, any food that's left over is taken to a nearby homeless shelter and community center, he told the publication.

You might wonder how such a concept could sustain itself financially. Gordon explained to the Canadian Press that the store's operation costs are relatively low since food is donated and labor is volunteered, and he noted that his pay-what-you-can soup bar "balanced out" at the end.

He added that overhead costs can be supplemented from fundraisers, online donations and revenue from his catering business, Jagger Gordon Catering. He also plans to register the project as a charity, and pursue corporate backers and sponsorships.

Show Comments ()

EcoWatch Daily Newsletter

Sponsored
Health
PxHere

This Common Preservative in Processed Food May Be Making You Tired

By Brian Mastroianni

Is it hard to motivate yourself to get off the couch and go exercise?

Keep reading... Show less
Popular
MarioGuti / iStock / Getty Images

EVs 101: Your Guide to Electric Vehicles

By Patrick Rogers

If you have ever considered making the switch to an environmentally friendly electric vehicle, don't drag your feet. Though EV prices are falling, and states are unveiling more and more public charging stations and plug-in-ready parking spots, the federal government is doing everything it can to slam the brakes on our progress away from gas-burning internal combustion engines. President Trump, likely pressured by his allies in the fossil fuel industry, has threatened to end the federal tax credits that have already helped put hundreds of thousands of EVs on the road—a move bound to harm not only our environment but our economy, too. After all, the manufacturing and sale of EVs, hybrids, and plug-in hybrids supported 197,000 jobs in 2017, according to the most recent U.S. Energy and Employment Report.

Keep reading... Show less
Animals
An adult bush dog, part of a captive breeding program. Hudson Garcia

A Rescue Dog Is Now Helping to Save Other (Much Wilder) Dogs

By Jason Bittel

Formidable predators stalk the forests between Panama and northern Argentina. They are sometimes heard but never seen. They are small but feisty and have even been documented trying to take down a tapir, which can top out at nearly 400 pounds. Chupacabras? No.

Keep reading... Show less
Health
RoNeDya / iStock / Getty Images

What Is Mead, and Is It Good for You?

By Ansley Hill, RD, LD

Mead is a fermented beverage traditionally made from honey, water and a yeast or bacterial culture.

Keep reading... Show less
Sponsored
Climate
U.S. Army member helps clear debris from Tyndall Air Force Base following Hurricane Michael. U.S. Army

Pentagon: Climate Change Is Real and a 'National Security Issue'

The Pentagon released a Congressionally mandated report (pdf) that warns flooding, drought and wildfires and other effects of climate change puts U.S. military bases at risk.

The 22-page analysis states plainly: "The effects of a changing climate are a national security issue with potential impacts to Department of Defense (DoD or the Department) missions, operational plans, and installations."

Keep reading... Show less
Popular
Protesters interrupt the confirmation hearing for Andrew Wheeler on Capitol Hill Jan. 16 in Washington, DC. Chip Somodevilla / Getty Images

5 People Calling Out EPA Acting Head Wheeler for Putting Polluters First

This week, people across the country are joining environmental leaders to speak out against the nomination of former coal lobbyist Andrew Wheeler to lead the the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA). As Scott Pruitt's hand-picked successor, Wheeler has continued to put polluters over people, most recently by using the last of his agency's funding before it expired in the government shutdown to announce plans to allow power plants to spew toxic mercury and other hazardous pollution into the air.

Keep reading... Show less
Sponsored
Popular
Great white shark. Elias Levy / Flickr / CC BY 2.0

Marine Biologists Raise Flags About Viral Great White Shark Encounter

By now you might have seen Ocean Ramsey's rare and jaw-dropping encounter with a great white shark in waters near Oahu, Hawaii.

Ramsey, a marine biologist, said on the TODAY Show that it was "absolutely breathtaking and heart-melting" to be approached by the massive marine mammal.

Keep reading... Show less
A tree found severed in half in an act of vandalism in Joshua Tree National Park. Gina Ferazzi / Los AngelesTimes / Getty Images

Wall Before Country Takes Mounting Toll on Americans Everywhere

By Rhea Suh

One month on, the longest and most senseless U.S. government shutdown in history is taking a grave and growing toll on the environment and public health.

Food inspectors have been idled or are working without pay, increasing the risk we'll get sick from eating produce, meat and poultry that isn't properly checked. National parks and public wilderness lands are overrun by vandals, overtaken by off-road joyriders, and overflowing with trash. Federal testing of air and water quality, as well as monitoring of pollution levels from factories, incinerators and other sources, is on hold or sharply curtailed. Citizen input on critical environmental issues is being hindered. Vital research and data collection are being sidelined.

Keep reading... Show less
Sponsored

mail-copy

The best of EcoWatch, right in your inbox. Sign up for our email newsletter!