P.E.I. Food Banks say they will be receiving three tractor trailer loads of frozen food, about 75 pallets, from the recently detailed federal program that will redirect surplus perishable food to vulnerable people during the pandemic.
The $50-million program was announced on Thursday after the COVID-19 crisis shut down much of the restaurant and hospitality industry after the country, leaving producers with unprecedented surpluses of fruit, vegetables, eggs, meat and seafood.
"[It's] a very impressive amount of food, and it's certainly something that we've never had before, that's for sure," said Mike MacDonald, executive director of the Upper Room Hospitality Ministry and P.E.I. Food Banks, told CBC Radio: Island Morning host Mitch Cormier.
"There is a lot of kind of unknowns at this time. We're trying to work with Food Banks Canada and make sure that some of our local processors are included."
MacDonald believes the three truck loads will be spaced out, likely with a month or a little more between each delivery, and will likely consist of frozen protein items.
The program is expected to distribute 12 million kilograms of food across the country. MacDonald said the contributions will have a big impact for them and the communities they serve, though storage may be an issue.
"We certainly don't have that type of capacity, so we are looking out into parts of the province on what may be available for freezer space," he said.
"It is a pretty daunting task but it's something that we're working at and I'm sure we'll find a solution for it."
The way we've done things over the last number of years isn't necessarily the way we need to do them today - Mike MacDonald, Upper Room Hospitality Ministry and P.E.I. Food Banks
MacDonald would also like to see Island food producers included in the program.
"We certainly know that you know our economy has been hit pretty hard," he said. "Some of our producers, I think, would be would be included in that, so we would we'd like to see if they can reap some of the benefits."
'We have to be able to move quickly'
As for how the food will be distributed, he said it remains uncertain.
"We'll certainly be willing to help stock freezers .. we'll work with other organizations as well that may be doing similar work that could use some assistance as well."
Statistics Canada has reported that one in seven Canadians live in a household where there was food insecurity over a one-month period during the pandemic.
P.E.I. Food Banks serve about 3,500 people across the province each month.
"It's been a busy number of months and certainly March and April, May and June, we were going on full force," MacDonald said.
"July slowed down a little bit, but you know what, things are picking right back up for us again and you know we're getting ready for the fall."
With school resuming, MacDonald said P.E.I. Food Banks want to help, whether that's supporting the lunch programs through the schools or having more clients coming in to the food banks.
"The last number of months have certainly taught us that, you know, we have to be able to move quickly," he said.
"The way we've done things over the last number of years isn't necessarily the way we need to do them today."
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