The “Pay what you feel” model reduces socioeconomic barriers to food
By Alexis Zygan, Staff Writer
According to research conducted by National Zero Waste Council, Canada throws out a total of 2.2 tonnes of edible food waste each year.
On October 1st, a brand new market opened its doors on West 2nd Avenue in Vancouver with a unique business model where customers “pay what they feel.” A first of its kind in the city. Community and Sustainability Manager Maggie Hauge recommends customers pay $2.60 per pound, based on a valuation of donated food by Food Bank Canada. However, a lack of funds will not prevent anyone from accessing nourishment. Food Stash Foundation opened Rescued Food Market to tackle food insecurity and eliminate food waste. According to the Canada Food Price Report, the cost of food will likely increase by five percent this year; and the cost is only expected to continue rising due to inflation. The highly inclusive market eliminates the monetary barrier to accessing fresh produce and non-perishables.
Surplus goods from farms, grocers, restaurants, wholesalers that otherwise would be discarded supply the shelves of this store. According to research conducted by National Zero Waste Council, Canada throws out a total of 2.2 tonnes of edible food waste each year. Typically, the products are thrown away due to overstocking, cancelled orders or approaching the best before date. Consumer standards determine whether the appearance of produce qualifies shelving or disposal. Rescued Food Market sells misshapen produce rejected by regular grocers. Between 75 to 80 percent of food recovered is redistributed to non-profits that serve a diverse community. The remaining percentage of food is sold through in-house programs, one of which is Rescued Food Market. The other two are a Community Fridge located in Mount Pleasant and Rescued Food Box.
According to their website, Rescued Food Market welcomes everyone regardless of socioeconomic status. The space is built around the celebration of food and promoting an equitable circular economy—where resources are circulated rather than thrown away. One of the primary objectives of the market is to provide customers with more options around their food. While also reducing the stigma felt by people unable to afford expensive staples due to the recent price hike. Since its establishment in 2016, Rescued Food Market has prevented around 70,000 pounds of food per month from entering the landfill. Before opening a brick-and-mortar storefront, the market operated out of a closed commissary. The market was founded by a Vancouver teacher who felt inspired after watching Just Eat It: A Food Waste Story, a documentary that dives into the issue surrounding food waste.
Rescued Food Market is open on Friday from 3:30 pm – 6:30 pm. Customers are encouraged to bring a reusable bag. Food Stash Foundation has volunteer positions available for delivery drivers, food sorting, food unboxing and market facilitator.