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This article has been updated with new information.
Chef Jagger Gordon and his team at Feed it Forward are embarking on the next step of an already huge undertaking to tackle food insecurity and reduce food waste in Canada by moving their pay-what-you-can grocery store to a bigger and better equipped spot on Dundas West.
Jagger explained the move was required in order to "expand our operation [and] upgrade our facilities," and that their new spot will feel "more akin to a cafe than a pay-what-you-can grocery store," providing an alternative to traditional food banks.
In store, customers will be offered hot coffee and tea as well as a wide range of food and fresh produce, dry goods, breads, pastries and prepared meals. Moreover, all supplies come from untouched and perfectly edible excess product that would otherwise be thrown out by traditional food retailers, which is how the operation helps to reduce waste.
Jagger also outlined some of the additional issues COVID-19 has brought to the fore.
"It heightened our awareness of the people who have always fallen through the cracks and who really need our services", he says.
It's one of the reasons why his team works tirelessly to create a pleasant in-store experience, so both first-time and returning customers feel welcome and comfortable.
Feed it Forward relies on volunteers to run their in store operations. Fortunately, many people have stepped up to the plate and are "happy to get out of the house...[to] come out and work with us in the kitchen or the store." But manpower can be an issue, expressed Jagger, particularly as he aims to extend the reach and operational capacity of his organization.
In reality, their task only begins in-store, as the team also supplies food to students on university campuses and run meal programmes in high demand. Currently, they are in the latter stages of developing an app that helps people to source and pick up rescuable food product. And, if you've walked down the street in Toronto you've probably seen the fridges that say 'leave what you can, take what you can' on the door. The initiative runs city-wide offering free meals, often prepared and supplied by Feed it Forward, to local communities in Toronto.
When asked about the future, Jagger expressed that he wants "every city [to have] a Feed it Forward or food rescue operation...where no child goes hungry and every family can enjoy food security." But the challenges involved in achieving his goals are not limited to sourcing manpower.
"Securing financial donations to meet an ever growing list of operational needs, van and car breakdowns or freezer repair or replacement. There is always something to handle, and so far, we've been able to meet and exceed all our expectations."