How Feed it Forward Grocery Store Fights Hunger and Food Waste

Chef Jagger Gordon has opened the Feed it Forward Grocery Store in Toronto, Canada, to cut down on food waste and ensure that everyone can afford to eat healthily by paying what they feel they can for the produce.

The store, which opened last Saturday, may look like any local convenience store at first glance. But when it comes to paying for their items, patrons might be surprised when asked what they are willing to pay.

You might say to yourself, “That’s all very well and good, but how is this business going to stay afloat?” Well, for one thing, Chef Gordon doesn’t want to or expect to make a profit. The Feed It Forward Grocery Store is the latest innovation in his “Feed it Forward” movement, which is all about helping the community, not about turning a quick buck.

Still though, there’s the issue of getting the food to sell (or in some cases give) to customers — and that’s where things get really interesting.

Fighting Hunger with Food Waste

The food stocked at Feed it Forward is perfectly edible but, for one reason or another, is rejected by supermarkets. It may be produce that’s deemed too ugly to sell or it may be tossed out because it is getting close to its sell-by date.

The food would otherwise have gone to landfill sites to rot, but by building ties with local farmers and goodwill with retailers and members of the public, Gordon was able to easily meet the needs of a soup kitchen he opened a few years ago that works on this ethos, and now, he hopes, for a grocery store, too.

Gordon is quoted as saying, “It’s a simple procedure of taking those trucks that are destined for landfills and hijacking them and giving them to people in need… There’s more of a demand for food that is needed by Canadians than people know.”

How the Feed it Forward Model Works

One other beautiful aspect of this store is that people who can afford to pay more are also welcome — though by no means forced — to pay it forward themselves by covering some or all the cost of another patron’s shopping.

Gordon is keen to stress this venture is not a food charity: people are asked to leave their information on taking their groceries, and may only take one day’s worth of food from the store at a time. This is to ensure that there is plenty of food for everyone. Gordon believes that, despite this model being difficult to get right, he can support the venture through his own businesses, as well as by asking for goodwill from those who can afford to donate.

Below, you can see a video from Chef Gordon where he talks a little bit about his vision for Feed it Forward, including how the impetus for this movement came, in part, from his own child talking about how some of their friends’ fridges were empty.

Tackling Canada’s Food Waste Problem

Canada, for its size, has one of the world’s worst food waste problems, a report by the Commission for Environmental Cooperation found. The country throws away a combined 396 kilograms of food per capita when all sectors of the food production market are put together.

Add that to the United States at 415 kilograms and 249 kilograms for Mexico, and we quickly see how oversized North America’s food waste problem is.

The reasons for this problem are in some ways complex. Some include food surplus where farmers have to grow more produce than they can ever sell to make their operations viable. Another is retailers demanding aesthetically pleasing produce, which means “ugly” fruit and veg often get tossed despite being perfectly edible.

But, increasingly, consumers have been pushing back on this. While it is true that we all tend to favor products that appeal to us, we as consumers know that the world cannot afford this kind of excess. It is costly in terms of greenhouse gas emissions, and it is costly in terms of us actually being able to afford the produce when times are hard.

That’s why projects like Chef Gordon’s Feed it Forward scheme are so worthwhile: they take unwanted produce and turn it into a social good where every person can contribute what they can to the store, whether that’s nothing at all, or maybe the price of their own shopping and someone else’s.

In this century, no person should be so poor as to have to choose between warmth and food, no family should ever wonder where their next meal is coming from, and certainly no one should ever have to skip meals so their children can eat.

Chef Gordon’s compassionate grocery store model will hopefully thrive, because it is very much what our communities need right now.

Photo credit: Thinkstock.

123 comments

Hristina B
Hristina B3 days ago

Well done

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rachel r
Past Member 15 days ago

Thank you :-)

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Carole R
Carole R1 months ago

Thanks for posting.

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hELEN hEARFIELD
hELEN h1 months ago

tyfs

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Daniel N
Daniel N1 months ago

thanks for sharing

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Lisa M
Lisa M2 months ago

Thanks.

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Lisa M
Lisa M2 months ago

Thanks.

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Louise R
Louise R2 months ago

Thanks

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Renata B
Renata B2 months ago

Supermarkets should start giving away left over food and - maybe even more importantly - we need to be more responsible at home. I am definitely not a good cook and although we are only two at home, I manage not to waste food. With a larger family it is even easier. Just a bit of thinking and flexibility. We very, very rarely throw anything away. And if I can do it, anyone can, believe me!

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hELEN h
hELEN h2 months ago

tyfs

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