Soon, a new food truck will be rolling into a neighbourhood near you with a mission to provide another alternative solution to food waste.
The Community Food Equity With Dignity (FEWD) Truck aims to provide nutritious, restaurant-quality meals by using large quantities of perishable food that was destined to become waste due to appearance, overabundance and more.
The truck is run by the Guelph Neighbourhood Support Coalition and is supported by Our Food Future.
Yasi Zorlutuna is a local chef who came up with the idea for the truck. She said the truck and its chefs can work alongside current food security work to help fill in gaps, especially where labour is needed to quickly sort, wash and safely store perishable food.
"The way we operate as cooks is quickly, creatively and on the fly," said Zorlutuna. "When you're dealing with perishable products, that's what you need."
She points out that cooking also requires creativity and passion, another thing that is needed when coming up with new ways to use food before it spoils.
"We're kind of perfect for food rescue, that's what we do," said Zorlutuna.
Launching this summer, the truck will make "community stops" in four different neighbourhoods twice a week to provide free or pay-what-you-can meals. It will also make one "pay-it-forward stop" once a week during lunchtime where customers can contribute more to help fund the program.
Once up and running, the truck will continue to consult with the communities it serves to ensure its addressing the right needs. Zorlutuna said it's important to build relationships with the communities they will be serving to learn what meals they would like to have and are culturally appropriate.
If all goes well, she said the plan is to expand into eight neighbourhoods identified by the public health as in need of this service, and into Wellington County.
“My hope is we pilot this and we can show what we can do and it can be adapted,” said Zorlutuna.
Reducing food waste is only one aspect of the program. The truck will also be hiring chefs and workers within the communities it serves to help prepare the meals. There will also be volunteer opportunities for youth and adults.
"We can serve a need and provide employment to skilled humans," she said.
With over 20 years of experience in the food industry, Zorlutuna said her heart has always been drawn to volunteer work and food security. She came up with the concept for a food truck like this and approached the GNSC about the idea in 2021. The idea was then pitched to Our Food Future.
Zorlutuna said addressing food waste, also known as surplus diversion within the industry, is a "huge logistical challenge."
"I like to call it surplus as oppose to waste, because it ends up as waste," said Zorlutuna. "It's not waste, it becomes waste, it's a resource."
With surplus being a high-quality product, Zorlutuna said she hopes the program can show residents what amazing things can be done with surplus.
"It should be enjoyed by all people."
Currently, the program is seeking to rent or borrow a food truck this year so they can determine what equipment they will need when they purchase a custom built food truck in the future.
Those interested in volunteering with the Community FEWD Truck can email firstname.lastname@example.org. To learn more about the program, click here.