Surplus Food Market With 'Pay What You Feel' Policy Opening to Combat Food Insecurity

Starting October 1, a Rescued Food Market will open up in Vancouver, British Columbia to provide surplus food to those in need as well as those looking to help combat food waste and promote a circular economy.

Put together by the Food Stash Foundation, the market will be open every Friday from 3:30 p.m. to 6 p.m. The foundation rescues over 70,000 pounds of food per month and redistributes it to their partners throughout the area.

Rescued food, according to the foundation's website, means "good surplus perishable food that grocery stores, wholesalers and farms would be throwing away due to overstocking, canceled orders, an approaching best before date, or not fulfilling stringent consumer standards [ex: produce that is too big or too small]."

Carla Pellegrini, the executive director of the Food Stash Foundation told Newsweek that about 80 percent of the rescued food goes to community partners who have their own meal plans and means for distribution. The other roughly 18 percent goes toward the 100 food boxes the foundation sends out weekly to people in the community who self identify as food insecure.

The Rescued Food Market, Vancouver
The Rescued Food Market in Vancouver will offer fresh, surplus food to people facing food insecurity as well as those looking to help combat the issue of food waste. The market will be open on Friday afternoons. Courtesy of the Food Stash Foundation

At the market, shoppers will find "nutritious surplus food" from farms, grocers and wholesalers. Not only will shoppers have the chance to rescue their own food, it will come at little to no cost. The market will follow a "pay what you feel" policy, where shoppers can choose what to donate.

According to the foundation's site, the choice to use "pay what you feel" rather than "pay what you can" eliminates "any shame associated with not being able to afford the rising cost of food."

The market will be open to anyone, no matter their socioeconomic status. More than provide more affordable, quality food, the market's stated purpose is to better educate about the issue of food waste.

"I am hoping that it gets our name out there a little bit so people know that there is this amazing, really high quality, fresh food that they can access on Friday afternoons," Pellegrini said. "And there are zero barriers for them to access it. I'm hoping it'll be a wholesome, supportive community."

Another benefit of the market is the promotion of a circular economy. According to National Geographic, a circular economy refers to "a collection of strategies—some old, such as reducing, reusing, and recycling, and some new, such as renting rather than owning things—that together are meant to reshape the global economy to eliminate waste."

Rescued Food Market Fridge
The Food Stash Foundation rescues up to 70,000 pounds of surplus food each month. About 80 percent of the food goes to community partners around roughly 18 percent goes toward weekly food boxes sent to 100 homes in the area. Courtesy of the Food Stash Foundation

In line with the rest of their model, The Rescued Food Market also asks that shoppers bring their own bags. Reusable tote bags will be available to those who don't have them, but there will be a limit of one per customer.

Similar initiatives have sprung up in the U.S. to help support those looking for food at no cost in the wake of the COVID-19 pandemic.

In New York City, community refrigerators began to appear in neighborhoods throughout the five boroughs. According to The City, as of late last year, there were more than 70 community refrigerators being stocked and supported by volunteers. The Rescued Food Market will also have a refrigerator that will sit outside of the building for people to access food beyond the Friday hours.