Dumpster Dinner: UVic students source meals from trash to highlight food insecurity

Dumpster Dinner: UVic students source meals from trash to highlight food insecurity

WATCH: Victoria environmental studies students are raising concerns over food waste in Canada by going right to the source. Ceilidh Millar reports. 

Hunched over a trash bin outside a Victoria market, Elora Adamson and Riley Yakabuski are turning their dumpster dive finds into dinner.

“I dumpster dive almost all of my produce,” explained Yakabuski. “For other things it kind of depends, but I’d say more than 50 per cent is reclaimed food for me.”

For ten days, the University of Victoria students have decided to source all of their meals from food thrown out by local grocery stores.

The two are raising money for Feeding Canada, an Indigenous-led organization based in Toronto that helps combat food insecurity in northern communities.

All of the money that they would have spent on groceries will be donated to the organization.

“We can’t sit here and hide our eyes from all the food that is being wasted while other people, especially in northern Canada, are not having enough to eat,” Yakabuski said.

According to a recent report by Toronto-based agency Second Harvest, 35.5 million tonnes of food produced in Canada is lost or wasted.

Adamson says the dumpster diver community in Victoria is growing especially among student circles.

They say some stores in Victoria are aware of dumpster divers and leave out boxes of food beside the trash bins.

“It’s totally all edible and should not be in the trash at all,” explained Adamson. “If you know this food is edible it shouldn’t be thrown out.”

From strawberries, to yogurt and protein sources — they say what piles up the most is food barely past the best before date, often sealed, packaged and safe to eat.

Yakabuski says that a lot of the produce they find is discarded for cosmetic reasons.

“The food that we are taking is in great shape,” she explained. “I think there is a misconception that we’re eating scraps or rotten food, but in reality that’s not at all what it is.”

The environmental studies students believe the way we consume food in Canada isn’t sustainable.

“The way that our food system is working isn’t going to last forever,” Yakabuski said. “It should be addressed.”

To learn more about their initiative, visit their GoFundMe Page. 

Ceilidh MillarCeilidh Millar

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