This story, fittingly, comes from The Good News Network: Toronto is now home to Feed It Forward, a pay-what-you-can grocery store designed to help people stock their cupboards at prices they can afford while raising awareness about food waste.
Feed It Forward is the brainchild of chef Jagger Gordon. It works like this: The store fills its shelves with food that grocery supply chains would otherwise toss into a landfill. There are several reasons the food might be destined for the dump—ugly or bruised produce, foods close to a best-by or expiration date, and stuff that’s simply in excess in the warehouse could all be tossed—but the result is the same. Perfectly edible food gets dumped. So those chains donate to Feed It Forward, which in turn allows customers to come in, shop, and pay whatever they can afford. That includes a possible total of zero dollars and zero cents (though, per Good News, “families are only allowed to take home one day’s worth of food in order to ensure that the store remains stocked.”)
This food can’t be donated to food banks or outreach programs, because it’s against the law. Here’s Gordon, writing on the organization’s website:
Canada throws away $31 billion worth of consumable food every year, or to put it in more staggering terms-40% of all food produced in Canada ends up in landfill-40%!-while 1 in 7 (or 4.9 million) people live in poverty. As a chef and caterer, I face this food-waste reality every day and in 2014 I reached a point where I could no longer stand by and let this happen with a clear conscience.
The chef isn’t the only person able to exercise his philanthropic impulses at Feed It Forward. Anyone shopping there is free to pay for a future shopper’s groceries.
Gordon also opened a pay-what-you-can soup bar in 2017; the food there is, yes, made from food that would otherwise become garbage.