When Culinary Director & Executive Chef David Speight arrived from Rogers Arena, he left behind a fully-operational food recovery and donation program that he started at the organization, which continues to provide food to those in need throughout the Lower Mainland.
We are excited that he is currently implementing a similar program right here in SHHS – to help meet UBC’s goal of becoming zero-waste and to address food insecurity on campus and in the broader community.
What does a food recovery/donation program do?
What this program will do is recover perishable and prepared food from our UBC Food Services operations that’s still fit for consumption and, instead of sending it to the compost, it will be made available to those in need – primarily on-campus, but also outside of UBC.
The first priority, of course, is to reduce waste at the source – by correctly assessing food production needs and not overproducing in the first place. Nevertheless, with an operation as large as UBC Food Services’, some food inevitably remains unconsumed, and that leftover edible food is what this program targets.
The first stage of the program, David says, was to:
- research the logistical challenges of such a large-scale program
- research on-campus need (and find ways to address that need first – to keep food on-campus)
- develop third-party partnerships for distributing food and for research support
LFS 450 SEEDS Project: David and his team partnered with a Land and Food Systems 450 class SEEDS Project. LFS 450 is focused on increasing the sustainability of the UBC Vancouver campus food system. For this project, students worked with Executive Sous-Chef Daniel Chiang to recover edible food from Sage, the Point Grill, and four Food Services’ retail outlets. They were able to recover roughly 20 kilograms of edible food, which they used to produce a class banquet. Read more about the LFS 450 recovered food banquet.
AMS Food Bank: UBC Food Services is now partnered with the AMS Food Bank as part of the effort to keep recovered food on campus. The AMS Food Bank is ideally suited to distribute products from Harvest, which serves salads, sandwiches, and snacks across campus.
Agape Street Missions: Agape Street Missions is a student club that distributes food and clothing to street-entrenched individuals in Downtown Vancouver. This group helps us distribute products from Harvest and the Point Grill.
David’s vision for this program is that it becomes an embedded part of our operations and culture in UBC Food Services – a priority which is shared by Colin Moore, the Director of UBC Food Services. Thanks to Colin’s support for the project, it is a fundamental priority for David’s team in 17-18.
To meet this goal, David is working on:
- Better tracking and measuring: if we can better track and measure the amount of edible food that is going unconsumed, we can reduce waste in the preparation stage, but also accurately understand the volume of food that ultimately needs to be recovered before it enters the waste stream.
- Healthy Food Guidelines: This set of guidelines will help FS staff in each unit best determine what food should be directed into the food recovery stream for donation and what food should be composted instead.
- Large-scale partners: It’s one thing to distribute pre-packaged or grab-and-go food, but another thing entirely to distribute items like bulk cooked rice, vegetables, or meat. David’s team is currently working to identify partners who can successfully distribute food at this scale.
- Technological solutions: Engineers Without Borders (UBC) is currently working on an app that will help us – and other food producers across campus – more easily connect with organizations to distribute recovered food in real-time.
Each of these program elements will help scale up the program, so that ultimately all edible, unconsumed food from our operation is recovered, donated, and provided to people in need on-campus and in the community. One day, David hopes, we will be able to establish our own distribution centre here on campus, to most efficiently get food to those in need.
David would like to extend a big thank you to the SHHS Leadership, Colin Moore in particular, for supporting this initiative and to Executive Sous-Chef Daniel Chiang for his continued efforts to implement and manage this critically important program.
Photo Gallery: LFS 450 Recovered Food Banquet
Photos: Duncan McHugh