More than 35.5 million tonnes of food are thrown out each year in Canada, but one group in Vancouver is hoping to divert some of that to help people who are food insecure.
The Food Stash Foundation is opening the doors to the Rescued Food Market for the first time today.
It will allow patrons to shop and pay what they want, which means people can choose whether to donate money to help keep the market running.
Anna Stash, the communications co-ordinator with the Food Station Foundation, says the market allows people the dignity to make their own decisions.
"This gives you the autonomy to choose what you want, make your own bag, have as little or as much as you like. There's no discussion about payment. You also have the dignity to choose if you'd like to pay as well," she said.
The foundation collects surplus produce from Metro Vancouver grocery stores that otherwise would have been thrown in the trash.
The charity rescues more than 30,000 kilograms of food every month and the market is just one way it bridges the gap to get the food to people who need it.
Gray says the rescued produce is of high quality — there may be a small bruise that can easily be cut off before eating, for example.
"We have to change the way we're looking at that because there is so much food waste in a country where one in six kids go hungry," she said. "We could solve that issue with the food that we're wasting."
Part of the foundation's work includes a food box program that delivers surplus produce to families in need, but as the demand grew, Gray said they came up with the market as a way of reaching more people in need.
"We've definitely seen a rise of people trying to sign up for our boxes [during the pandemic] and we only have a limited capacity of how many people we can serve with our member boxes, so we're hoping that the market with supplement that as well and offer an easier way for people to come in and get the food that we all deserve," she said.
The market will complement the foundation's new community fridge, which sits in front of the building, and is stocked with food that is accessible to people at all times.
The market officially opened at 3:30 p.m. at 340 West 2nd Ave. in Vancouver.