Feed Nova Scotia is partnering with Sobeys on a new program to help feed the hungry and reduce food waste.
Surplus food past its best before date but still safe for consumption will be donated to Feed Nova Scotia, a Halifax charity that helps supply more than 100 food banks and meal programs around the province.
The new program means food banks and shelters, which normally receive dry foods and canned goods, will have more fresh food like meat and produce.
Nick Jennery, executive director for Feed Nova Scotia, said the partnership is all about zero waste.
"It's a much more thoughtful approach to ensure that before any product becomes waste, there is a connection with Feed Nova Scotia to see whether we can use it and distribute to those who need it."
The pilot project, which is in its third week, requires daily communication between Sobeys and Feed Nova Scotia. Each morning, workers from Feed Nova Scotia load trucks with product and deliver it to various organizations, including Laing House in Halifax.
The Barrington Street organization offers a drop-in centre for young people dealing with mental illness.
"We're always encouraging people to make healthy choices," said Kyle Kelly, a community support worker at Laing House.
The donated food is either close to or past its best before date, meaning it may have lost some of its freshness, flavour or nutritional value. No items past their expiry date are donated.
Only certain products require expiry dates in Canada, including meal replacements, nutritional supplements and infant formulas. Health Canada recommends not consuming expired products because of potential changes to their microbiological or physical stability.
Jennery said he spent months working with Sobeys' food and safety team to work out the logistics of the project and ensuring Feed Nova Scotia inspects the donated food.
"Our driver looks at each and every product," said Jennery. "If he personally wouldn't eat it or put it on his table, it doesn't get delivered."
Sobeys, which is Feed Nova Scotia's largest corporate food donor, will also donate health and beauty products nearing the end of their shelf life.
"This new approach will ensure more food makes it to the tables of those who need it most," Peter Doucette, general manager of Sobeys Atlantic, said Thursday in a press release.
In the first two weeks of the project, Feed Nova Scotia received 520 kilograms in food donations, or the equivalent of about 1,100 meals.
Sobeys hopes to expand the project to the rest of Atlantic Canada in the upcoming months.