COVID-19 caused significant disruptions to areas of Canada’s food system, as it forced the near closure of the restaurant and hospitality industry in Canada and the United States. Some producers across Canada are left with surpluses of quality food, while increased demand from grocery stores alone is not expected to clear the inventory before it spoils. At the same time, the pandemic has increased the demand for food from food banks and other food security organizations in communities across Canada.
To help remedy this food supply crisis, the Honourable Marie-Claude Bibeau, Minister of Agriculture and Agri-Food, recently announced the $50 million Surplus Food Rescue Program, which aims to move surplus food commodities such as potatoes, seafood and meat through the food system as efficiently as possible to help vulnerable Canadians.
Eligible applicants for program funding include for-profit and not-for-profit organizations (industry groups, processors, distributors, food serving agencies, regional and municipal governments and agencies, including schools or school boards) that can demonstrate an ability to handle the full logistical requirements for acquiring, processing, transporting and ensuring shelf-life stability of surplus commodities and delivery to organizations serving vulnerable populations.
Applications are being accepted until July 31 or until all funds are committed, whichever comes first; first priority will be given to products that require immediate attention due to their high perishability (potatoes, fresh fish, eggs, etc.). For more information, visit: agr.gc.ca.
This funding announcement builds on other measures the federal government recently introduced to keep Canada’s agri-workforce strong, including:
Over $77 million in funding for the Emergency Processing Fund (EPF), whose objectives include helping companies implement changes to safeguard the health and safety of workers and their families
$100 million for food banks and local food organizations to help Canadians experiencing food insecurity
$25 million through Nutrition North to ensure food security for Canada’s most vulnerable
Travel exemptions for all temporary foreign workers, including seasonal agricultural workers and fish/seafood workers
$50 million in funding for the Mandatory Isolation Support Program for Temporary Foreign Workers to help cover the incremental costs associated with the mandatory 14-day isolation period imposed on visitors to Canada.